14 Days with Peggy and Wayne in 14 Pictures: Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina

We wanted to share the best of our trip with Peggy and Wayne with you all. Here are 14 pictures from 14 days exploring Slovenia, Croatian, and Bosnia Herzegovina.

We met up with Peggy and Wayne in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. They took a long distance train from Vienna, we took one from Eger, Hungary. We met up easily and then spent a rainy day in Zagreb together. Here is our very first attempt at a family jelfie. Not bad for the first try!

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After one day and two nights in Zagreb, we headed into Slovenia. We knew we wanted to see the beautiful Lake Bled, so we wasted no time in getting there. What an amazing place! We enjoyed beautiful weather as we visited this lovely mountain lake. It is distinctive because it has an island in the middle with a church and a castle perched on a high cliff overlooking the region. We only wish we had remembered our swimming suits!

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After visiting Lake Bled, we headed back to Ljubljana. We had heard that this capital city of Slovenia was lovely. Not much to do per se, but perfect to enjoy the “Café Culture.” We did enjoy our day here!

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After one quick day in Ljubljana, we headed off to Skocjan Caves. This UNESCO Heritage site was a large cave in two parts. The first part was not super impressive if you’ve seen the likes of Carlsbad Caverns, but lovely all the same. The second part was magnificent. You are perched over a 47 meter drop to the rushing river below. You aren’t allowed to take pictures until you exit. Blargh.

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After the morning at the caves, we rushed back into Croatia. We stopped briefly at a small town called Opitija in the Istria region. We didn’t stay long, but we did stay long enough to enjoy our first views of the Adriatic and to allow our inner school children to emerge!

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After our brief stop on the coast, we went directly to the Plitvice Lakes region. Here we had the best dinner of the entire trip!

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After a bit of a rocky start, rainy and mist and clouds, we finally got a bit of sun and saw the beautiful lakes.

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After our day at Plitvice, we raced on to the lovely city of Zadar, Croatia. We’ve read blog posts that rank this city as having the best sunsets in the world. It definitely did not disappoint- though we have to say, it would be very hard to rank our top sunsets!

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After our evening in Zadar, we headed to our next destination: Split, Croatia. This amazing city is built inside the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace. It is hard to beat wandering around ancient Roman ruins.

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After enjoying a short trip in Split, we continued on down the Dalmatian Coast to the big event: Dubrovnik. We enjoyed the beautiful city but could have done without the high prices and huge cruise ship crowds. One of our favorite events was walking the walls of the city.

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One of Eric’s favorite things about having Peggy and Wayne along was that they brought along a Rick Steves guidebook. Eric’s new best friend and travel guru!

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After spending a day in Dubrovnik, we picked up rental car number 2. Everyone who knows Della should be exceedingly proud. She drove this one the entire time.. all by herself! After this trip, no one can hate on her driving stamina ever again!

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We arrived in the amazing, interesting city of Sarajevo. It was hard to explain our feelings about being here. We were relived to be away from the crazy tourist crowds, excited to see something completely different from what we had seen before, but in pain when viewing and hearing about the all too recent wars.

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Finally, we arrived in Mostar. A lovely city with a lovely bridge. It was fitting for our last evening together to dine here with an incredibly atmospheric (as Rick Steves would say) view.

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We are so fortunate to have both Peggy and Wayne, and earlier Donna and Steve, join us on our travels. We could hardly ask for anything better. Thank you parents!

 

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

This is a guest post by Peggy, Della’s mom, who joined us, along with Wayne, for 14 days in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia Herzegovina.

We drove from Skocjan Caves in Slovenia to a town near Plitvice Lakes National Park back in Croatia. We stopped midway at Opatija, an old resort town from the Hapsburg Empire era.  We enjoyed strolling along the seaside path.

We stayed at an apartment rented through AirBnB in the small town of Rudanovac, about ten minutes from the park entrance. Our host worked at a local brewery and brought us several bottles of beer to enjoy. We ate one of our best meals at a nearby restaurant. It was all such a pleasure because everyone was wonderfully friendly, which came as a surprise since Rick Steves told us to expect otherwise.

Our day for visiting the park was very cloudy and misty. While it never really got sunny, it fortunately cleared enough that we could see the wondrous sights.  We were charged the winter admission charge of 55 kuna, about $10, half the normal summer rate. It turned out many paths along the lakes were underwater, so we missed some of the neat things in the park.  Nevertheless, it was quite something. Lake follows lake down a mountain slope, separated by travertine rock dams, and hence, waterfalls. Some of the waterfalls are high, others short and wide.  It is an incredible world of still and running water and mist. You walk along numerous paths, sometimes high above, sometimes just below the falls.  Many of the paths are boardwalks constructed of non milled timber (in other words – from logs and branches). There is a boat ride for one stretch and a shuttle bus that takes you from the upper lakes back down to the lower lakes.

We were there in shoulder season, on a not so nice day, in a relatively remote part of Croatia. Even so this park is CROWDED. We were ahead of the big tour groups, but even so there were lots of people. It was a bit hard to get unobstructed views but people were generally in good spirit about jockeying for position.

We were told that Krka Park (another in Croatia that is somewhat similar to Plitvice) has somewhat similar formations and allows swimming. At Plitvice you are not allowed in the water. Had it been hotter, that rule would have made us very unhappy because the water was clear and beautiful.

Monthly Recap: Month 3

Here we are at Month 3. Hard to believe. We’re still going strong, though Della is going through her first bout of true homesickness. This was an emotional and eventful month. We dedicate our thoughts this month to two wonderful women who lived long, meaningful lives. We both lost our grandmothers this month. Lucille, Della’s grandma, was 101 years old. Marvis, Eric’s grandma, was 94. They were both kind, caring, and generous. They will be missed.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 6 (Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro)

Beds Slept In: 16

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 8 (Levoca Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments, Budapest including the Banks of the Danube the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrassy Avenue, Škocjan Caves, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, Old City of Dubrovnik, Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar, Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor) Total on RTW: 23

We traveled by 0 planes this month!

We traveled by 4 trains (though one of them involved a train, a transfer to a bus, then a transfer back to a train!)

We traveled by 5 long distance buses.

We traveled by 2 different rental cars which took us from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, then Dubrovnik to Sarajevo and back!

Top Moments:

~ Our first top moment came at the very beginning of the month! We had long been looking forward to visiting Spis Castle. We had planned to do it as a day trip from Ždiar, but felt thwarted by it being a holiday weekend and therefore bad bus schedules. We switched our plan and it totally worked out for the best. We added one more UNESCO site of the old town of Levoča and were able to spend a wonderful day at the castle. The weather was glorious and the castle even exceeded our expectations!

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The amazing Spis Castle

 

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~ We had a top moment when, after a long day of traveling, we were able to successfully meet Della’s parents at the bus station in Zagreb. It involved both her parents making a train, bus, train connection as well as us doing the same. We converged on Zagreb one Saturday evening- Peggy and Wayne from Vienna and Della and Eric from Eger. Della and Eric arrived first, connected with our VRBO host, and then decided to head back to the train station to meet Peggy and Wayne’s train. It made for quite a happy reunion!

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~ During our two weeks with Della’s parents, we had the benefit of Peggy’s Rick Steves’ Guide Book. (Eric loved that book and might consider it a top moment by itself!) Rick had warned us not to expect too much from the people in the Plitvice Lakes region of Croatia, stating that often the service left something to be desired. We were so pleasantly surprised during another one of our top moments. We had a long day of driving to arrive in the Plitvice Lakes region. We met our Airbnb host, who was wonderfully friendly, making sure we had everything we needed in a great apartment. He even brought up some free beers from the local brewery where he works. We then headed to a restaurant that he recommended where we enjoyed the service of a wonderful man. He was friendly, funny, and competent. It was just a cherry on top when he gave us travarica (Eric’s new favorite liquor) shots on the house!

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The beer was actually quite tasty!

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Dessert with free shots!

~ Eric and Della returned to Dubrovnik after a few days in Bosnia-Herzegovina with Della’s parents. They said goodbye to Peggy and Wayne in Mostar before driving the rental car back into Croatia. We weren’t really looking forward to spending more time in Dubrovnik given that we had been slightly underwhelmed by our first experience (high prices and a LOT of tourists). We were also a little depressed after having to say goodbye to Della’s parents. However, we enjoyed another glorious, sunny day (after many of rain) upon our return. There was no drama with returning the car (which was unexpected) and we found our lodging quickly, despite having to hike up 421 stairs with our bags. But it was the next day that really brought the top moment- we found out that Game of Thrones was filming in the city at that moment. We slept in (which could have been a top moment also) and then headed into the city to hunt for the sites of filming. Turned out that it was easy to find. We were able to watch them setting up for a large scene this coming season. The excitement came when we, first, got to listen to what must have been the camera director explaining exactly how the scene was to be shot and getting some inside info about what was coming! Then we saw LITTLEFINGER walk right by us! Finally, when we weren’t even expecting it (sitting on the square, enjoying a Coke Zero and some snacks), we looked up and saw CERSEI walk right by. Della feels like she even got a smile. =) What fun!

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Eric is the King in the ever-continuing Game of Thrones

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We were right there with the official Baratheon/Lannister banner!

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It was quite fascinating to watch them set up for what is probably one scene. So many people and so much work involved.

Runners up for Top Moments:

~Della, especially, loved all of Hungary. She doesn’t have any really great reasons except that it was extremely enjoyable and she somehow identified with the place and people. She wishes that she could list the whole time in Hungary as a top moment, but we try to be a little more specific in these recaps. So, we picked a moment that was in Eger, Hungary. You probably read how we experienced some pretty depressing, rainy days in Eger. There was one day in particular where we were quite annoyed. We had a lot we wanted to do, but we just weren’t feeling like getting soaking wet while trying to do it. So, we headed back to our pension to relax and read. All of a sudden, after a few hours holed up in the room, we glanced to the window and saw the sun peeking from behind the clouds. We dropped what we were doing and ran out to visit the Eger Castle before it closed. What views!

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The clouds actually added to the effect

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We love castles and views…

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so happy the sun came out!!

~ The middle of our trip with Della’s parents was plagued with a bit of bad luck: we experienced days of gloomy rain, bouts of bad colds (all of us in succession), injuries (Della tweaked her back, Peggy’s toe continued to bother her, and Wayne sprained his ankle badly), unpleasant experiences (lodging being cancelled on us at the last minute and then having to pay more for less, car companies who didn’t do what they said and then literally yelled at us and hung up on us, threating to let the car be towed instead of allowing us to return it: Sixt Car Rental, by the way), some sad family news from back home, etc. I tell you all of this because it was the backdrop for one of our runners up for top moment. After all of this stuff to make us unhappy, we arrived in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is a difficult city to visit for a number of reasons, but we found it amazing. We also were able to finally find affordable, good food. This may sound like a small thing, but, somehow good dining options seem to be able to make or break a place for us. We found multiple pleasant restaurants with genuine servers, good prices, and tasty food. (Even the hardest person to please among us was happy!) Our last night with Della’s parents was amazingly pleasant. We dined in our second town in Bosnia Herzegovina, Mostar. The evening at a restaurant with all the above, plus a great ambiance, and amazing views of the wonderful Old Bridge of Mostar.

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Happy campers… er… eaters!

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Local food delicacy called Burek. Yum!

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Our meal, see the view in the background.

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This lovely bridge!

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Sunset in Mostar, adding to the wonderful ambiance of our final dinner

~ See above for the lead up to this second runner up as well. We had had many days of rain during our trip and expected many more. We arrived in the Plitvice Lakes region on a cloudy evening, had a wonderful dinner (see above top moment), and slept well (except for Della who was fighting the cold at that time). We woke up to more cloudy, gloomy weather, which was truly unfortunate for our trip to the amazing Plitvice Lakes. We had been looking forward to this for a long time, reading blog after blog about how wonderful these lakes were. This is what they are supposed to look like.

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This is what they actually looked like when we arrived.

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The rain had also caused many of the wooden paths to be closed due to flooding. We were quite distraught but hiked on anyway. The top moment arrived when, at around noon, the sun was able to peek through the clouds! It wasn’t perfect, but it gave us the light that we had been hoping for. The mist cleared and we were able to enjoy the second part of the lakes!

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The lovely upper lakes

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The sun is out!

~ We had a wonderful time with Della’s parents, however, because their trip was short and there was a lot they wanted to see, we moved very fast! We rented cars and zipped from city to city, mostly spending only one night in each location. This was great because we saw a lot, however, we were quite exhausted by the time Peggy and Wayne left. Traveling like that is OK when you get to go home after, but on this long trip, we can’t keep up that kind of pace. We knew we wanted to slow down and thought that maybe we had found the place to do it. We headed to the bayside town of Kotor in Montenegro. We had booked an apartment through booking.com and didn’t exactly know what to expect. We arrived to a great place! Spacious, homey, and with almost everything we could want. We had already decided to hunker down for a few days, but now we think we might even go for more!

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Stay tuned to the blog for more pictures of the actual town. It is lovely.

Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

1. Eric’s computer. We were quite frustrated because we had bought a lightweight netbook for the purpose of this trip, but by the second month of the trip, it was starting to malfunction. It wouldn’t start up regularly and we began to worry that it was on its last legs. Luckily, we were able to buy a new one, ship it to Della’s parents and have them bring it to us.

2. Della’s cell phone battery. While in Budapest Della’s phone died. Luckily, it turned out to just be the battery. Unluckily, we were told that the specific battery she needed was not sold anywhere in Hungary. Cue a late night rush to the store in Denver by Wayne (Della’s dad) the day before they left to meet us.

Added:

1. See above: New computer and new cell phone battery, purchased at home and brought to us

2. New soap

3. New toothpaste and two new toothbrushes

Packing Update:

We’re still mostly happy with the contents of our bags. We probably have more than we really need. We still feel like we haven’t used some of our summer clothing. Shorts haven’t been worn virtually at all. We have finally used our swim suits (swimming in the Adriatic, next to the walls of Dubrovnik, and in Zadar) and we made use of our cold weather gear again during our time in Sarajevo. We also have been potentially carrying more books with us at a time then strictly needed.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Poland by James Michener, Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert, The Bridge at Andau by James Michener, Final Epidemic by Earl Merkel

Eric has read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Eric and Della have BOTH read Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2