Croatia & Slovenia 2016 Day 12 – Rovinj to Porec, border crossing, visit Postojna Cave and Predama Castle to Ljubljana

The day started with the same preparations. However, we would be leaving Croatia for Slovenia, which was a cross border drive and change of accommodation. After we were done packing, it was already 10ish by the time we were about to leave. The morning exercise of moving the luggage into the car boot through the gravel made me sweat in the morning. As I made my way out of the gravel driveway, my miscalculation caused the front bumper of the car to scrape the walls but thankfully it wasn’t too bad and the landlord quickly tried to guide my bulky car out.

Bakery along Ul. Stanke Pauletića
View of old town from street near Airbnb

Our first and important destination was to get to a petrol station (Bought ours at Petrol station @ BRAĆE BOŽIĆ 14, link to point of sales in DARS webby) to purchase a vignette as it was required for highway usage in Slovenia, unlike in Croatia where we could pay tolls. The highways had cameras in place to check on cars and therefore it would be unwise to risk crossing the border before purchasing one. Earlier I had researched the authorized station was actually really close to where we stayed and it was also closed to the hypermarts that we had visited earlier before. Went to the cashier and asked for the vignette (there were also indications on the counters informing that they were selling vignette) and it cost 116kunas, which I paid in euro and realized later it costed more. The cashier helped punched in the date before handing over the vignette that I promptly pasted on the windscreen on the drivers side.

Vignette for Slovenia

Mommy realized that she left an ice pack behind and at the same time, we received a Whatsapp from the landlord informing us too and so I made a detour back quickly to pick up the ice pack. This time around, I didn’t have any issues getting out of the driveway.

Our last Croatian stop was a small coastal town of Porec, 1hr drive away. It had the similar look and feel of Rovinj, only smaller in size. We arrived at a large parking lot and left the car there before taking a short walk to the old town, wherein the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO site, could be found. We first explored the surroundings of the old town for a bit before finally visiting the cathedral as we were pondering if we should spend the final kunas on the entrance fees, 40 kunas per person.

Another coastal town, Porec
Streets of the old town
A piece of history still standing

The basilica had quite a couple of places to visit and had many interesting mosaics on display. We couldn’t missed the bell tower, the latest fascination that baby K had for bells. Upon climbing to the top, we were able to see the surrounding sight of Porec old town. But the most interesting experience was to see and hear the bells go off at 12noon, loud but definitely memorable. Then it was more mosaics on the floors out in the open and in the crypt before we left the location. Before leaving Porec, we decided to draw some kunas to pay for the parking and for contingencies and got 200kunas (minimum sum) from the ATM. Parking was just a mere 20kunas.

Entrance to the basilica
Intricate carving on pillars
Inner compound of the basilica
Modern algae about to cover over the mosaics
Bells that got my kid excited
Tickets to the basilica
Exhibits in the museum
Compounds within the basilica
Mosaics of a fish
Crypt where mosaics can be seen
Beautiful mosaics filled the underside at the altar

We kinda liked the Croatian cookies that we bought in Zagreb and thought that it would be great to bring some home for families and friends to eat. So we drove to a nearby Billa. I had an issue trying to get a carpark ticket to enter but I couldn’t. In the end I just entered without the ticket. As I tried to find the Medenjaki, there weren’t any available either so I returned to the car. Baby K was already having his lunch as it was already afternoon but the parents had to make do with some snacks first. Without the carpark tickets I was forced to drive out through the entrance when there were no cars entering.

Before we crossed over to Slovenia, I drove to a gas station to fuel up my car which I paid with credit card as it should have been cheaper to do so in Croatia then its neighbour. Then its couple of minutes drive from the highway petrol station to the border which we got our passports stamped and cleared within 10 mins. Just immediately past the borders was an exchange (with an obvious exchange word prominently placed) where I received 23euros for 190kuna. Vignette was sold there as well.

Thought we would grab some lunch along the way and as we drove along  towards Postojna, we saw pizza grill sign next to Ristorante Gostilna Belvi (@ Salara while travelling on E751) and went into the open yard carpark. Went to the restaurant to ask if they do takeaways (as expected from a pizza grill) and found that they didn’t sell pizzas. Dumbfounded and thought I must have gone to the wrong place and walked to another building a level below and asked around. People there said it should be the restaurant where I asked previously. I gave up and we were on the road again.

Pizza grill next Ristorante Gostilna Belvi
Panoramic view near the restaurant was not too bad.

It wasn’t long before the small road merge into a faster highway. One good thing about highways were the presence of service stops, which we got into one en-route. I parked the car in the carpark behind the huge service stop and bought a sandwich and a pizza which we ate in the car (since baby K was snoozing). Then it was on the road again to Postojna.

Lunch from the service stations

As baby K was still asleep, I decided to quickly drive to Predjama Castle first which was furthest inland from the main highway. I parked at a obscured carpark as the main one was full and briskly walked to the castle to take some photos. Nothing like seeing with my own eyes, a castle built within a cave mouth. It’s a pity that we couldn’t spend any more time to explore the castle grounds. Quickly went back to the car for our last stop of the day.

Predjama Castle

Postojna cave was 10km away from the castle. We parked at huge carpark and proceeded to entrance to buy tickets, hoping to catch the last train, literally. Tickets costed 28.8 euros for 3 persons, 1 euro for baby K. Our train was scheduled to leave at 5pm and thus we visited the toilet and bought some drinks to quench our thirsts and put on some warm clothing for ourselves and baby K, as the cave was expected to be cold. There was an audio guide available with the tickets. A large crowd gathered at the entrance of the cave, all waiting to visit it. This wasn’t our first cave but it was surely baby K’s one.

Ticketing counter
Audio guide that came along
Steps to the entrance of the cave
Last train crowd at the cave entrance

The cave temperature was at a balmy 10DegC and it was indeed chilly on the small but long open top train as it travelled deep into the cave. The visit was a 1.5hr guided tour including 2 train rides and a 1.5km walk. The walk had a guide to lead us to the various locations in the cave and the audio guide helped to explain what we were looking at, but all seemed the same to me since I couldn’t listen to the guide as I carried baby K and had to depend on mommy’s selective explanations. The cave was huge, having many levels, different chambers and even got a gift shop inside the cave where we bought some souvenirs. After the train ride out, we hurriedly left Postonja for a 45mins drive to Ljubljana, stopping to visit a supermarket Spar before hitting the highway.

Small open top train
Stalactite and stalagmite
Different shapes and sizes
And colours
Different “halls”
Natural pillars
Proteus on display
Shop in the cave
Dusk, near the Postojna Cave
Spar before going to Ljubljana

As informed by the landlord, her friend would be meeting us instead and was already waiting for us when we arrived at 745pm (we were late for 45min). As with all old towns, it was again difficult to drive into the parking space so I had to reverse into the compound.

After I was done with parking right next to the flower pots just outside the ground floor apartment, the representative showed us around the Airbnb apartment which had a lot of other things complementary such bicycles and baby pillows. There were even free Slovenian beers!

Open concept bedroom
Storage near the entrance with bicycles!

As Mommy cooked, I went to the old town to buy dinner, bought Slovenian cuisine pork cutlet and potato for 18.8 euros at one Aroma restaurant. At the restaurant there was a certain protocol of order, I could only order from waiter, not receptionist or bar tender as I found.

Green castle at night
Water fountain
Aroma Restaurant behind the fountain
Inside the restaurant

The night view of Ljubljana was beautiful, unlike modern Singapore that were brightly lit everywhere, Ljubljana gave the feeling being back in the days of knights and dragons, the green illuminated castle on top of the hill reinforcing that image. Though not so brightly lit, there were many people around, it felt safe.

View of the river running through at night
Many people can be seen walking at night
Congress Square at night
Church near Congress Square
Dinner, potato and eggs

We had our cold but delicious dinner back at the Airbnb. Ended the night with a bath for baby K and a nice (free) Slovenian beer.

Croatia 2016 Day 11 – Opatija to Pula to Rovinj

We started the day late as travel fatigue set in from all the waking up early and sleeping late daily plus the physical exertion of carrying a 10kg baby K around. We only managed to leave the apartment by 930am and onwards we drove towards Pula, 1.5hrs journey away. Had we not done a stopover at Opatija, we would have had to drive some 4hrs from Zagreb to Rovinj, something that we didn’t want to do with a baby in tow, having learnt our lessons from the last European trip a year back. The toll was 51kunas upon exit and as we searched for parking, the roads were fully lined with cars till the train station. It was not such a bad thing as baby K had a chance to see a real train, the locomotive exhibit was placed just outside the station for people to see and take photo with. We back tracked along the road until we see a roman structure of the Arena, a structure that reminded so much of the Colosseum of Rome that we had visited while in Rome, only difference was that this looked somewhat smaller. The tickets cost 50kunas per head and we had decided to skip this one as we had visited the Colosseum before, and we were running short of both kunas and time. So we took a few photos and left.

Model of a locomotive just outside the Pula train station
Pula Arena

We then realised why there were so many cars, an Ironman sports event was ongoing! Nearby across the street behind a huge carpark was a playground and we let baby K play around there for a bit before continuing the walking tour into the old town to Augustus temple. To enter was 5kuna per head and we skipped that as well.

Augustus temple
Streets of Pula. Ironman event ongoing
Thought that the balconies looked pretty…

Then we followed the road and went along the circular single lane road that had barricades of plastic red white tapes for the race and lined with old buildings with balconies of Venetian designs. The architecture told of its Venetian influence back in the days. After passing through the Arch, we then continued to walk back to the car, ending our really short stint at Pula.

Arch at the end of the street
Blue building with some wall designs.

The drive from Pula to Rovinj was a mere 45mins and baby K had fallen asleep in the car. We got to the Airbnb apartment, a huge 3 storey terrace apartment and our room was on the 2nd floor. We managed to check in early at 1pm and I carried the 2 luggage across the gravel driveway and up the flight of stairs and left them in the room. From there, we drove to town center a couple of minutes away and while baby K still sound asleep, I left mommy and baby K in the parked car (along Ul. Giosue Carduccia) to check out the beautiful coastal town of Rovinj first. Quickly took some photos at the carpark where there was a view point and also at streets near the old town before buying pizza for lunch, from a pizzeria near our parked car.

Street view of Rovinj
Porcupine fish on sale
Market selling local products
Old town of Rovinj
Panoramic view of the Rovinj port.
Place where we bought pizza
Takeaway pizza

We ate the pizza in the car until baby K woke up. Then as we left the car (payment of parking fees were through the coin operated ticket dispensing machine at the end of the road), we chose a random quayside cafe, Caffe Bar La Tabacheina, to feed him lunch while the parents enjoyed a cuppa for 30kunas. We also couldn’t go anywhere then as the skies started to drizzle. After lunch, I went back to get my portable spare battery left in the car because the mobile Wifi was running out of battery (couldn’t do without technology these days!). Managed to see Mr Mime sighting during baby K’s lunch, the European exclusive Pokemon on the game radar but didn’t manage to catch him.

Caffe Bar La Tabacheina

After the drizzle ended, we continued to walk towards the old town, first showing my family the viewpoint where we took selfies, before entering the old town of Rovinj proper, which was built on a hill with bell tower of the cathedral being the apex as seen from the view point. We walked upslope on the tiled roads till we were in front of the The Church of St. Euphemia. Took some photos, take in the view and also went into the church for a look before continuing to walk around old town and walking street filled with shops and restaurants. Before going back to the apartment, we drove to another carpark that showed another view of Rovinj, a commonly available viewpoint of the old town during sunset.

Fountain in the old town
Water from the mouth of the fish
An arch in the corridor of Rovinj old town
The Church of St. Euphemia
Ongoing service inside the church
Our ride parked with a view of Rovinj old town

I drove the car to the nearest Konzum near our Airbnb but it was closed at 2pm on Sunday. The GPS gave us another supermarket location, and we ended up at Plodine 6mins away which was opened to till 10pm together with 2 other supermarkets Konzum and Lidl. These huge hypermarkets had a huge carpark.

Plodine supermarket
Big supermarket selling all sorts of stuff

After the groceries shopping, we went back to the apartment to wash up a bit before I drove out myself to the viewpoint for the sunset (as mommy had to cook dinner and baby K stayed in the apartment, entertained by TV). It was a cloudy day but still it was a beautiful sight. I drove to town again to buy takeaway dinner from a restaurant Mikula, a cost of 120kuna for seafood spaghetti and chicken thigh fillet, which tasted ok.

Rovinj Airbnb
Master bedroom
2nd room
Bathroom with tub
Kitchen with dining table
Sunset view of Rovinj
Chicken thigh fillet
Seafood spaghetti
Mikula restaurant

I returned to the apartment and we had our dinner. Initially thought about using the balcony but we couldn’t quite do it as it was quite cold to stay out in the evening. Then it was washing up and putting baby K to sleep early. Mommy had trouble getting the hairdryer from the landlord whom we didn’t managed to contact so mommy waited out till her hair dried. I rested early myself at 10ish too, getting as much as rest I could.

Croatia 2016 Day 10 – Zagreb old town towards Opatija, Motovun visit

The day started with the usual same routine as the day before. We had to prepare for movement again and had to pack our luggage before embarking on our road trip towards Opatija, the town we chose as an intermediate stop before heading for the coast, as Zagreb was a town far away from water. We managed to get out of the apartment by 930am for a short visit to the town of Zagreb.

There were a few places that we wanted to visit and one of which was the massive Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which at the time of writing, was the tallest building in Croatia. The walk from the apartment was an easy 10 mins in the cool morning. Took a visit inside, going through the complicated design of the giant door arch and was wowed by the tall pillars that went so high above the heads of visitors walking on the cathedral’s ground. We didn’t stay very long since we were used to seeing them in previous visits to Europe and proceeded to walk to the Zagreb central square, Trg bana Jelačića. There seemed to be some sort of event going on there were many stalls set up selling foodstuffs and traditional items and people walking around in costumes. At the far end of the square was a stage set up for performances. All these festivities going on around the commanding statue of Jelačić on a horse which we took a picture with. Spent some time strolling around and we ended up buying a pack of Croatian Medenjaci cookies. We then walked towards St Marks’ church, eating the delicious honey cookies.

Tallest building in Croatia..
…Gothic Zagreb Cathdral
Beautiful door frame
Grandeur from the arches
Market at Ban Jelačić Square
Statue of ban Josip Jelačić.
Some events going on with people dressed in costumes.
Armour suit on display.
Making yarn
Medenjaci cookies
Concert stage with performance

St Marks’ Church was a 10 min walk by distance but because it was an upslope walk, it seemed to take a while to get there. The tiled roads brought us upslope and then GPS asked us to pass an arch in a building, which I later learnt was the Stone Gate. Underneath the arch was a shrine inside and there was quite a group of people inside which made us hesitant to pass through initially as we thought it was a church and there was an ongoing service! Upon reaching the St. Marks’ church, we were greeted with a church with a really beautiful tiled roof. Took a few selfies before walking back arriving pass 11 but the landlord was kind enough to wait for us. He had even offered for us to park the car in the car park till a later time if we needed more time in Zagreb but we had get on the road already.

The Stone Gate
St. Marks’ church

I loaded the luggage into the car, lugging them down the stairs while mommy warmed up food. Bided farewell to the landlord and we drove towards Opatija, 2 hrs journey on highway and a 70kuna toll. We have arrived at our Airbnb earlier than the check in timing but I was unable to contact the landlord who was away on business trip and her parents whom were supposed to help her link up with me was not contactable. We then drove out to the town center to eat first.

Punched in the GPS for parking and we arrived to find parking lots full. Ended up driving into a covered carpark under hotel Milenji. I was in awe of the town as it was totally unexpected that the coast-side town looked so beautiful as I initially thought it was some random town. We went to eat at an equally lovely seaside restaurant called Vongola, with a view of the sea. The costs was about 200plus kunas, slightly more expensive than what we were used to but it’s ok for a couple of meals on the trip. After the lunch of Aglio Oglio and truffles pasta, we went around taking some photos, the interesting sea water swimming pool and also of the maiden with seagull. Paid the carpark fees at hotel reception for 15kunas and we drove back to the apartment.

Maiden with seagull statue
Aglio Oglio
Truffles pasta
Swimming pool connected to sea and a view of Restoran Vongola

There was a large garden of this private detached house where we parked our car and tried to contact the landlord of the Opatija Airbnb but there was no answer. We sat waiting in the car and 5mins later, an elderly lady came and identified herself as the mother. She showed me the room and left us to our own. It was a very small place at the basement of the house but had everything that we needed. What we paid was what we got, but disappointingly there were also mosquitoes. After unloading our huge luggage in the limited walking space, we drove to the huge Billa supermarket just around the corner which had its own free carpark. We bought whatever that we needed for meals preparations and returned to the room.

Queen size bed
Shower and toilet
Huge Billa supermarket nearby
Lots of walking space

Mommy prepared baby K dinner by putting the ingredients into pressure cooker and lifting it to simmer while we drove to a nearby hilltop town Motovun at 5pm. Getting there we had to drive through a long tunnel that charged toll fees of 33kunas per way. En-route, we passed by town of Buzet that we thought was Motovun but we only arrived at the correct location after travelling way further on the road. We arrived at carpark at 6pm at the bottom of this hill and was directed into the carpark as staff said the carparks in Motovun town was full and we had to take the shuttle bus up for 20kuna each person return tickets. It was a 5mins ride up to the ancient town where we alighted and started our walk to explore this town.

On the way to Motovun, town on top of a hill
Shuttle bus counter
Shuttle bus to the top
Map of Motovun

Motovun was like the other old towns, with the tiled roads lined with bricked single storey buildings but built atop a hill that offered a lovely panorama for its surroundings. Unlike many touristy old towns, there didn’t seem to have any shops opened, but it could be that it was already late. Those that were opened were mostly restaurants and these usually were near the edge of the walls which gave the diners a view while having their meals. We took some photos with a old clock tower and the surrounding beautiful scenery and was rewarded with a sight of double rainbows in the grassy hills below.

Tiled roads of Motovun town
One of the many cafes bordering the town
Double rainbows!
View of greenery from Motovun
Another panorama from Motovun

We returned to same point where we first alighted after at most 45 mins of walking since the last bus going downhill was at 7pm. We paid 20kunas for parking at the counter where the staff advised that we could drive up to the Motovun town now as it had much fewer cars now and car parks had became available. We had to head back to Opatija already as night fell. There weren’t mobile signal and again I had to follow signs and intuition. It had started to rain and somehow I ended on a small unpaved road because I was following the Garmin which was my backup.

K fell asleep as I navigated our way back to the apartment. Mommy went into the apartment to pack baby K’s dinner while I stayed in the car with the snoozing baby. We left for town again, for dinner and this time, parked at shopping mall carpark Slatina mall. We visited restaurant Bella Vista, which was across the road from the mall and for 180kunas, we had Balsamic rice and Cevapi, a meat platter. While waiting for the food to arrive, mommy visited the brightly lighted merchandise stalls nearby that didn’t have any customers around. We felt a little cold eating alfresco in this balmy full moon night, made worse by the fact that it was near the sea. After dinner, we took a short stroll around the area before returning to the car park, looking at the coastline dotted with lights from the buildings. It was 20kunas for parking, more expensive than parking at the hotel.

Relatively quiet streets at dinner time
Balsamic rice
Opened nearby stalls, like pasar malam
View from Opatija coastline

The night was spent washing up and packing for the road trip the next day and it was challenging packing our large luggage in the tiny spaces. Then bedtime.

Croatia 2016 Day 9 – Plitvice National Park waterfalls and towards Zagreb

Woke up to the usual same routine with the exception of moving to another accommodation after only a night stay. I carried the 2 huge luggage up the short flight of steps and loaded the them into the trunk of my car, parked outside, meters from the flight of stairs. The staff at the reception was kind to offer some coffee for us while we lounged at the sofas in front of the door for a bit before we hit the road at around 930am, in the direction of Plitvice National Park.

As we understood, there were different entrances for Plitvice National Park and we decided to start our hike from Entrance 1 after some research before the trip on Tripadvisor (Things like the best route to see the waterfalls and the gradient of the walk etc). The GPS guided me towards entrance 1 in the nearly 2 hours of driving where baby K also fell asleep.

Upon the exit from the expressway, we paid the toll fees and continued towards the park entrance. Here the mobile signal was weak and I missed the carpark and overshot by a distance before realising and made a U turn back. We arrived at almost 1130, turning into a big carpark that was parked full of cars but there were lots so I just chose a spot beside a tree and parked there. As expected, there was a long queue at the ticket office but it was fast moving. After a visit to the toilet near the entrance, we went into the park armed with a map that costed us 20 kunas.

Entrance 1

Plitvice National Park was huge, unlike what we had experienced in Krka National Park. From the entrance, there was a huge waterfall aptly named the Great Waterfall just near the split path. Went over to take a photo with it. Selfie with a camera was hard work (especially with a toddler who had the least interest and a tall waterfall in the backdrop that couldn’t fit into the selfie) but thankfully someone offered to help. There was a pathway uphill that seemed to lead to a viewpoint by we didn’t attempt that as we did not know if it was too challenging to go with a toddler in tow. We got back onto the wooden walkway following signs that said Route C.

Welcome view entering from Entrance 1
Nice stone pathway
One of the many turquiose lakes
Gushing waters on the way to the Great Waterfall
The Great Waterfall

The walk was easy but it was quite a distance. The park was beautiful with quite a number waterfalls of all shapes and sizes and the crowd was not too bad, at least there were more than enough space to stand and admire the scenery and snap a picture or two. Many of the large lakes were turquoise in colour and pretty clear, allowing us to see the fishes in them. Other the wooden pathway, the walking terrain changed as we proceeded deeper, from the initial nice wooden bridge to older ones, dirt road and rocks, and undulating slopes but nothing serious that a normal fitness person could tackle.

Clear waters
Wooden bridge pathway
Walking above the waters
One of the many lakes
Another view
Waterfalls next to path
More gushing waters
Small fishes could be seen

We managed an hour of walking before we reached P3 where we would need to take a boat to the upper lakes. Fortunately, it was also a rest stop of us and many other people as there was some eateries and tables and benches available. As mommy fed baby K his packed lunch prepared in Zadar, I went to get ourselves a chicken burger and pork chop for lunch. Online reviews were pretty accurate on the taste of the food here, the pork chop was hard! Spent some time there and before we jump start the 2nd leg of the walk, I use the toilet and changed K’s diapers. At this time, there was already a long snaking line for the boat. We waited 10mins before 2 boats came and got everyone onboard.

Rest stop
Kitchen at the rest stop
Our lunch of chop and burger
Ducks afloat at the jetty
Boat tickets
Boat arriving

The boat ride was smooth sailing but boring to say the least as there was nothing much to see except trees that filled the banks of the river. We just sat back and enjoyed the ride and the cool wind.

We alighted at the disembarkation and continued the walk, climbing the flight of steps upwards. It was then more or less the same, more waterfalls along the way, more lakes and more gushing waters. The difference was that the crowd seemed to dwindle the further we walked, rightly so as the time got closer to closing. Our final destination on Route C was the bus station ST3 and it was only after an hour of walking that we finally arrived at around 345pm. We visited the restroom and bought ice-cream to cool ourselves down after this long walk. The bus arrived shortly and we got onto the bus. Baby K fell asleep after eating some bread, knocked out from this tiring trail in the National Park. It was a 30 mins ride back through the park, except that it was travelling on roads meant for vehicles and different from our walking route. It made a stop at ST 2 where many people got on and finally at ST 1 where we got off, as this was the station closest to entrance 1. The walk didn’t stop as there was a further 30mins distance to get back to entrance and with baby K sleeping in my arms, I walked ahead while mommy offered to be the photographer (as my arms were occupied), shooting the park scenery at a bird’s eye view level.

View from the boat
Waterfall seen from the boat nearing drop off
Wooden bridge for the 2nd part of the walk
Another turquiose lake
Waterfalls of different shapes and sizes
Another one with multiple streams
One taken up close
A hint of Autumn
Station 3 finally
Thankfully transport to return us back
Birds eye view of the park
View of one the many wooden bridge
Multiple levels

We walked back to the car first and transferred baby K to mommy in the back seat before heading to the payment counter across the road to pay for the carpark fees, amounting to 36kuna before driving out of the almost empty carpark. Without telecom signal, I started the journey to Zagreb based on road signs and intuitive. Stayed on D1 and drove thru a lot of small towns before reaching the tolled highway. Then it was an easy drive to Zagreb that we managed to get in by 7pm, a 2hrs drive from Plitvice NP. While Zagreb was modern town with a lot of traffic and trams sharing the road, it was still not too difficult to drive in, unlike other big European cities.

Our Airbnb Time Inn apartment was closed to city center. The GPS directed me onto a small road without much moving traffic and I got out to look for owner by pressing on the doorbell that spelt the apartment’s name. He came immediately as he was already waiting for us and led us into a compound which was the private carpark. He was helpful with our twin 28″ luggage as there were 2 flights of steps to climb. After explaining the directions for a few important places, like the supermarket and the old town orientation, he left us to the nice cosy 2 bedroom apartment. We then proceeded to visit Spar supermarket to shop for groceries and dinner.

Baby cot in the master
Second bedroom
Bathroom with tub
Living room

Mommy cooked for baby K while I ate the dinner from Spar – tasty but cold. Then we switched roles and fed baby K his dinner before giving him a bath in the bathtub. Something unexpected happened in the toilet as water back flowed from drain pipe which made the toilet smelled a little but it wasn’t a big deal. The day finally ended after I dumped the thrash downstairs, bathed and then went to bed.

Wine sold in litres!
Dinner from a supermarket
Spar supermarket

Croatia 2016 Day 8 – Split to Trogir to Zadar

This was the day where we would be starting to move from town to town everyday in order to make the distance towards Austria, where we would eventually fly home from. I woke up early at 7 to get ready. We had already packed most of the things, ready for the drive ahead. Just before leaving the beautiful town of Split, we decided to visit the old town for 3rd time this trip.

We went to the cathedral for a visit since we missed it the day before. We purchased the combo tickets for Cathedral of Saint Domnius and crypt without the treasury, only to find that the temple of Jupiter was also included in this as well, should have waited to visit all together instead. The cathedral was not a very big place but there were beautiful sculptures and large paintings on the walls nonetheless. After the short stay at the cathedral, where crowds of tourists filled the small space with a guide leading the group, we left shortly to the crypt under ground level. The crypt was also quite empty and not very big but there were 2 copper bells sitting on the floor which got baby K amused.

Single and combo tickets
Inside Cathedral of St Domnius
Intricate columns within the cathedral
Inside Crypt
Bells inside crypt

Before leaving Split for good, I brought my family back to the big statue of the Gregory of Nin at the northern side of Split old town walls, outside the Golden gates. The big toe of the statue was golden, after many people rub it (as I found out later that rubbing the big toe can bring good luck), I thought I would do the same with a photo for memories (as I did with statue of Juliet at Verona).

Shiny toe of the statue
Gregory of Nin

While we walked back to the room, we bought some yogurt for baby K to eat. We handed over the apartment key to the landlord and bidded goodbye. Now we the car parked facing the direction where I am heading, I managed to drive out easily and soon, with the GPS punched in, we were on our way to tiny but UNESCO listed historical town of Trogir. K fell asleep as I drove and even till we parked at the parking lot. I went exploring on my own while mommy stayed in car while the snoozing baby.

Babic bakery

The small island was connected by bridges as water surrounded it’s perimeter. It looked like most old towns (though it was Venetian) that we went previously, only this was on an island. I walked to the Kamerlengo Castle, the closest attraction to the car park and entered for 25kuna. There was nothing to see as it was mostly empty space surrounded by walls but climbing up to the top gave me a good viewpoint of Trogir’s surroundings.

Water channel in Trogir
Streets of Trogir
Karmelengo Fortress
Within the fortress walls
Stairs to the top of the fortress
View from the top

Afraid that I have taken to much time on my own, I returned to the car to find baby K still asleep. Gently we woke baby K after he had already slept an hour, he woke up grumpy. Brought him into Trogir old town and went to the other popular attractions such as the St. Lawrence Cathedral and nearby clock tower to take some photos. We didn’t go into the cathedral as it costed some money and we were sure we didn’t want to see any more cathedral. Proceeded to lunch nearby at a square nearby and choose one Konoba tri Volta. Had spaghetti and salad for lunch and a difficult baby K who was misbehaving while having his meal.

Door way of Cathedral of St Lovre
Bell tower of the cathedral
Loggia with clock tower
Town hall
Seafood spaghetti
Chicken salad
Konoba Tri Volta

Before we left this nice little island, we crossed the bridge nearby to a huge Kozum to buy some groceries. Then it was another 1.5hr drive to Zadar. We arrived at Lavandula apartments carpark at about 430pm and I checked in first while baby K slept in the car. It was a small establishment but looked modern and comfy. Our room had 2 storeys with a big bed on the 2nd storey. After moving all the luggage down a flight of stairs to the room just next to the reception, mommy then went into the apartment to prepare baby K dinner while I stayed in the car with baby K till he woke at 5pm.

Kitchenette in the living room
Large bed at the second level

Zadar was a town known for its beautiful sunset and we wanted to catch that. After mommy packed baby K’s dinner, we droved to a carpark just outside the old town and then it was a short walk to the coast. As we walked along coastline, baby K was walking as well because he became interested with walking on small pebbles. Out in the horizon there were clouds diffusing the sun beams and no clear sight of a setting yolk – disappointment. We saw a playground but didn’t go as it would distract us from getting to the Sea organ. It was an attraction designed to use water waves to generate different sounds, but it was really soft when we were there. Continuing on, we arrived at the other attraction, the Sun Salutation. There were already a lot of people there. This was a large circular light display on the ground that generated different colours of light randomly. It looked pretty amazing the darker the skies got and baby K enjoyed running around on this!

Parking coupons at Zadar
Zadar Carpark
Sunset on a cloudy day
Sun Salutation

After we managed to get baby K to leave, we then walked through old town. The place was unlike others it looked quite modern for some parts and had large walking paths. We walked around undecided where to have our dinner and ended up eating at a restaurant Spajza, an open air restaurant in the old town. Ordered a meat platter Cevapi and it was quite alright.

Zadar old town
Wider than usual street
Square in Zadar
Zadar old town walls

After dinner, we walked back through a little park and although it was a little dark, there were still some people walking around, probably also on their way back from dinner. We drove back to the apartment and followed the usual night routine of washing, bathing and then to sleep. The only grouse of this apartment was that the water temperature was inconsistent during bath.

Croatia 2016 Day 7 – Diocletian Palace and Split Old Town

This day was a holiday break within our holiday trip as we woke up at 830 even though we have our alarm clocks set at 730. Did our usual preps while waiting for baby K to wake up at 9am. Carried out our usual routine and had our breakfast bought from bakery the day before.

We only managed to leave the apartment at 1030am and we proceeded to walk to the Green Market. It was a huge area just in front of Diocletian Palace with quite a lot of stalls grouped by trade selling anything from foodstuff to other products – mommy bought some shorts from there.

Green Market with the crowd
Fresh produce

Our first destination was the commanding bell tower that stood tall overlooking Split. To reached the top for the birds’ eye view, we had to pay 20kunas to climb it. After negotiating the stairway lined along the walls of the squarish tower, with dual direction human traffic, we were finally greeted by first many bells and then by the beautiful port view of Split. Baby K was fascinated by bells and was looking at them through the fence.

Bell tower of the Diocletian Palace
Entrance to the bell tower.
Bell tower tickets.
Round and round down the bell tower
Many bells
Panoramic view of Split from the bell tower
Steep steps

After exiting the towering bell tower, we walked through the peristyle and entered the vestibule (circular bricked building with a circular opening at the top) to find a cappella group of 4 singing traditional tunes (and selling their CDs). To continue our exploration, we walked through the vestibule and exited into narrow streets. Took some time to walk around and to find the way out as the streets felt like a maze, we could only see as far as the street ahead.

Singers in the vestibule.
Split old town streets like a maze

We walked around to look for Billa supermarket  as we were trying to get small packet milk for baby K. We weren’t able to find suitable ones as those were normally 0.5L. We ended up buying goats’ milk. After that, we walked towards the port and bought some crepes from mobile stalls for lunch. The riviera was lined with trees which provided shade for us while we ate and K walked around. We then took the street behind the old town back to the apartment.

Narodni Trg clock
Narodni Trg
Interesting statues by the side of the walls.
Nutella crepes
Crepes stall

Baby K ate lunch in the apartment and I bathed him before sending him to bed for an afternoon nap after drinking goat milk (which he liked!). Mommy also slept at the same time.

I had some time to myself and so ventured out to Bacvice beach to have a look. It was a small beach and I didn’t stay long as there wasn’t much to see. I proceeded to walk to the port, trying my luck in getting the region exclusive Mr. Mime for Pokemon Go. Continued to walk till I arrived at the Split bell tower back in the old town and re-entered using the same tickets, after explaining that I was here earlier in the day and asked if i could re-enter (thankfully the person at the counter didn’t mind). I went back up where the bells were and took some photos of them, since baby K would be delighted to see them on photos too.

Bacvice beach
Bacvice beach of Split

Then I proceeded to one of the many stalls set up outside the old town walls and purchased another pair of shorts for mommy, as she had purchased earlier and found them nice. I continued on foot found some of the areas we missed earlier in the day,  places like the cathedral, the crypt, the temple of Jupiter, and palace basement. I then returned to the room and found K still sleeping while mommy had started cooking his dinner.

Shopping underground.
Palace basement
Statue of Gregory of Nin.
Fresh water.

K finally awoke from his nap at 6pm and we then left for old town. I brought them to  the few attractions, first to the Temple of Jupiter for just 20 kuna which it was very small itself.  By the time we crossed the street over to the Cathedral and crypt, they were both closed.  We then continued to explore the palace basement for another 20kuna. It was a huge area but mostly empty spaces. There were some floating balloons as exhibits too which baby K liked to pass by them as I carry him, and also some old pillars.

Statue inside the temple of Jupiter.
View of palace from the top
Palace compounds
Huge basement
Exhibits of pillars
…of statues…
…of balloons…

After the attractions, we returned to Billa supermarket to buy more goat milk since he liked it. After that we proceeded to a restaurant at the square, called Caffe Bar Pivnica Plac. Ordered pasta and curry chicken pasta but it was kinda salty, all for 180kuna.

Billa supermarket
Curry chicken
Pivnica Plac

After dinner, we walked to the port and played Pokemon Go for a little. There were lures at Pokestops and a couple of gamers camping there too. Got ourselves an almond gelato 8 kuna en-route back to the apartment.

Back at the room, it was cleaning up and bathing before feeding baby K milk and sleep.

Croatia 2016 Day 6 –  Krka National Park waterfalls and Sibenik

Back to normal morning routine, by the time we were done 930am.

We were visiting the Krka National park and it was going to be our first drive out of the tight spaces. As I had parked head first into the carpark, I wanted to do a “many point turn” so that I could just drive out – it was a bad decision. After reversing onto the road, mommy got out of the car to help guide me as I struggled but the 2 cars parked along the road made it impossible for me to drive out. Baby K was cranky after sitting in the back seat for too long made it all the more frustrating. Tried to go back to the landlord for help but no one was to be found. It was then the neighbor who parked one of the cars by the road side came out, a face of displeasure and mouthful of complaints saying that we had hit her car (which we didn’t of course). She told us to stop moving and she got into her car, maneuver it onto the kerb and created space for us to drive out. We thanked her, which made her feel better, before we drove the car out to the main road and towards the national park.

The drive to the park was fairly easy, just about getting onto the highway and followed the GPS to Skradin for about an hour. The toll was 31 kuna. When we got close to the parking lot, we were welcomed by a lot of (fake) parking attendants, all seen wearing the “P” Tee. Learning from my lesson in Mostar, I stuck to GPS route that brought us right to the correct carpark.

Toll receipt
Skradin car park

We entered the tourist information center but there weren’t much to see (the payable restroom was public one and located outside the building) and I had earlier purchased the tickets online in Singapore. The boat however was running on a schedule so I went to get lunch first. There were many stalls along the walking pavement near the port and I bought 2 large ham and cheese for 54kuna and one ice coffee 30kuna from the food stalls there. At the same time while having the sandwiches, we fed baby K. Couldn’t finish the huge sandwich and we proceeded to board the 12pm boat (we missed one that left earlier at 1130 because we thought the frequency was by the hour).

Tourist information
Boat transfer from Skradin
Skradin dock
Fast food for lunch
Ice coffee
Ham and cheese sandwich
Boat transfer to Krka waterfalls
On board the boat

The boat ride from the port to the falls was a 20mins slow gentle ride. The surrounding wasn’t very much interesting as the river meandered between trees towards the disembarkation location at the falls. We got off the boat with lots of passengers and as we walked towards the falls crossing crowded bridge, we passed the ticket counter which already had a queue. With the printed tickets, we walked to the entrance route of the falls manned by 3 staffs. Upon showing my printed tickets, they said that it had to be exchanged at the ticket counter! Mommy went back to queue and got the exchange while I let baby K enjoy kicking the small rocks on the ground.

Entrance to the falls
Ticket counter

It was a very busy day with many people streaming into the park. The falls were pretty close to the entrance and we walked onto the bridge where we could see the majestic falls and the many people having a dip in the lake in which the falls send the waters. Tried to take some photos on the narrow bridge, difficult but we managed with a selfie. We continued through the bridge and then there was some steps that brought us further upstream. We could see there were still some smaller falls and had to go close to the waters that were fenced up to prevent people from going into the rushing waters. We didn’t venture further upstream (as we didn’t know if there were more or not).

Dipping in the waters
Upstream of the falls
Gushing waters

As we return crossing the same bridge, I was very interested in getting my feet wet by the lake and taking a dip but mommy was overly concerned and I to give up the idea, disappointingly. We walked all the way back to the pier to wait for the next ferry, which already had a crowd waiting. We managed to board the 130pm return.

Dock at the falls
Leaving the waterfalls

As we returned back to Skradin, we got ourselves some icecream at one of the stalls and drinks and before going back to our car. There were still a couple of places to go and off we went after following the GPS route to Roski Slap. The toddler was quick to fall asleep during the drive there. The route got more difficult as we approached the falls and become single lane which I wasn’t comfortable with as it would be a problem if a car in the opposite direction came but thankfully none did. After merging from the 1 lane route onto a clearing, the park attendants directed me to park a clearing atop a small slope as the main carparks were full.

Mommy and I had to take turns to go see the Roski Slap since baby K was sleeping in the car. With the same tickets I walked to the entrance not too far from the car park and advanced quickly downhill. It wasn’t a straight forward route as there weren’t signs but it was not difficult to find either. The Roski Slap was just one falls and from the place that I could see, it was quite far away and didn’t turn out to be as majestic as I had in mind. After a few snaps, I returned to the car so that mommy could go see the falls. While in the car, I couldn’t do much as there wasn’t any signal for mifi. Mommy returned soon and we decided to skip visiting the smaller multiple necklaces falls as it was about 1.35km away.

Walking path to Roskic Slap
Roski Slap
Little falls

Our last nature viewing for the day was to check out the view point called the Visovac lookout. From there one could see a tiny small island with a church in the middle of the river. It wasn’t far from the Roski Slap and we soon found ourselves on a major clearing where I parked the car so that we could go look over the cliff at the island. Again we took turns, I went first followed by Mommy. There was in fact a way to visit the island by taking a boat but we weren’t that interested.

Visovac pano view

Baby K woke up from his nap as we embarked on our journey to a nearby town Sibenik. Worried that parking could be a problem at the old town, I parked at a carpark meant for ferry passengers which had barely a few cars but at about 750meters away from old town. Approaching the old town, we visited a supermarket to buy yogurt. Supermarketing became like a habit that we had to do it at the different towns, as we stocked up our supplies of bottled water and foodstuff for baby K.

There wasn’t an itinerary for Sibenik since it was an ad-hoc visit knowing that it was just 30mins away from Krka NP. We thought of just lounging by the port and so tried to find a cafe. As we walked around the old town, it was like walking in a maze, not knowing where the route would lead us. After heading in the general direction with google map, we finally found the Rivera with cafes by the sea and went into one.

Fountain at Sibenik

I was in an urgent need to pee but as I visited the cafe’s one and only restroom, it was busy and I had to hold it until it was available ( there was someone shitting behind unlockable doors.) we ordered a scoop of vanilla icecream, sprite and Coke Zero to cool ourselves from the heat and baby K delighted to have his first taste of icecream after having his yogurt.

Sibenik cafes
Sibenik port

After our short lounging session, we walked back to the carpark and paid 12kuna for carpark. Then the return on the highway to Split resulted in a toll of 27kuna. With the previous disastrous parking the first day we arrived, I decided to try parking butt first and I found easier much easier in fact! However we couldn’t do it upon arrival as the private lot was chained up to prevent other people from parking. We had to get the landlord to help unlock the chain.

Toll tickets
Narrow road to the Airbnb parking

Mommy cooked while I did some washing of bottles and entertained K and cleaned K after he crapped. We only left the apartment again at 830pm for dinner in Split’s old town.

There were a variety restaurants to choose from and we entered one of the restaurants, De Belly which featured a live band, making the dining experience relaxing and also a distraction to keep baby K’s attention. Ordered mussels in white wine and turkey ham and it was not bad!

Bowl of mussels
Turkey ham
De Belly restaurant

After dinner we walked along Riveria to look at the mobile stalls selling things from food to souvenirs. The whole strip was lively with many restaurants, and it was a nice feeling to soak in that atmosphere. Baby K was walking about with me as we visited stall to stall. We returned back to the apartment late.

Shopping street
Split port night view
Split Riviera
Funny road sign

Bath time and it was off to bed.

Croatia 2016 Day 5 – Day trip to Hvar and Stari Grad

530 and the alarm went off- it was going to be a long day. Mommy woke up first to prepare food for Baby K while I prepared the (long) day backpack. Changed K diapers and clothing while he was barely awake. We had to catch a catamaran scheduled at 740am but only managed to leave the apartment at 725am. With quickened footsteps we walked to port which was close (5mins away) but a little worried as we were unsure of the exact location. Fortunately we manage to spot the catamaran by its name and boarded the vessel with the printed tickets that I have purchased online. It was then a smooth 1 and a half hour ride on Krilo star which brought the passengers first to Brac and then Hvar.

Split port early in the morning
Krilo Star, catamaran to Hvar
Inside the catamaran

We weren’t entirely prepared on what to do and see in Hvar so after disembarking, we went to the tourist info desk. We were advised on a couple of activities such as island hopping to nearby Pakleni Islands with water taxi, visit other towns by bus and walk around Hvar. Hvar was popular for being a party island in summer in the night but that didn’t suit our objective nor our timing. Yet we were here as we wanted to see what this island was all about.

Hvar port in the morning
Water taxi
Hvar in the morning
Square in the morning

We picked up a town map and started to island walk first. To conserve energy as it was going to be a long day (boat schedule was after 7pm), we dropped our day bag at a left luggage (for a fee) and began exploring. Following the map, we visited the wet market, some historical buildings and churches (that might be significant but we didn’t know as our walk was unguided) and finally climbed to the Spanjola fortress that overlooked the town below.

Map of Hvar
Left luggage
Typical street
Church in Hvar

To get to the top, we had to negotiate a long flight of steps first followed by a gradual climb up. Entrance fees of 30kunas paid which allowed us chance to explore this medium size fortress but what was the most important part of the visit was the beautiful panoramic view Hvar and the Pakleni islands. After taking in view, we found and rested at a shady area (as most of the top of the fortress was exposed to merciless hot sun), in an attempt to get baby K to sleep as he was getting cranky. He remained awake despite any efforts so we decided to go back down to Hvar. As we started our descend, baby K fell asleep. The swaying motion while seated on the hip seat does wonders in getting our stubborn toddler to sleep. I had to carry sleeping K in my arms all the way down to the town square and sat on a ledge beside the building for a rest, away from the sun.

Steps to climb to the fortress
Fortress gates
Cactus garden
Another church near the fortress
Panoramic of Hvar and Pakleni islands from the fortress
Exhibit in one of the rooms of the fortress
Fortress walls

Mommy retrieved the bag from the left luggage for 25kuna. She then went shopping at the nearby stalls leaving us to sit at the square. About an hour later, baby K woke up and mommy had returned at almost the same time, bringing in her hands some gifts of lavender fragrance, popular products of Hvar.

Stalls selling stuff like lavender near the port

It was noon time and we decided to walk along the harbour side opposite to where we had disembarked, to check out the restaurants there. There was a particular Jerolim restaurant we chose which had a long bench suitable for a constantly moving toddler during lunch in a terrace that faced the beautiful harbour. Our lunch orders consisted of calamari rice and fish fillet class 1(which we still didn’t know the difference) for 120 kuna. After the delicious lunch, we walked further down the same route where there was playground available. Baby K enjoyed the slides and climbing around the various mini buildups. Close by were steps to the shore where people could be seen sunbathing.

Jerolim restaurant
Fish fillet
Calamari rice
Enjoying my juice portside
Pathway along the waters
Swimmers in the turquoise waters below
Playground next to the waters

There was still some amount of time left before our catamaran trip back to Split so we decided to consider the option of a bus ride to another old town, Stari Grad. To get there, we had to walk to the the bus stop past the left luggage at the edge of the old town (wasn’t a big area to begin with). The bus schedule indicated that we had only one option when the bus return to Hvar was before the ferry schedule back to Split and that meant taking the next bus which would give us only an hour at Stari Grad. We didn’t have other options than to do this (not keen on getting to the islands since we weren’t dressed for beach activities). The bus tix had to be purchased from the bus driver and it wasn’t time yet, we went back to nearby fruits and vegetables market to buy some fruits and vegetables. The stall owner was amused with baby K and gave us a free banana for baby K to eat.

After our short marketing session, we went back to board the bus parked at the bay and paid 54 kuna for tickets for both of us. The bus was quite popular and we were fortunate to be the first few to board and took the seats near the front. The journey to Stari Grad was of some distance and baby K succumbed to a little snoozing induced by the gentle swaying motion and I managed to catch some winks myself too. We only arrived at 325pm at the bus stop a couple of hundred meters away from the main port side and we walked briskly to town center. There wasn’t enough time to even check out the stores or explore the streets or sit for coffee as the schedule for the return bus journey was at 405 pm (It was made harder with a sleeping toddler in arms). We only concluded from this short experience that it was a small nice town similar to Hvar but much much quieter.

Bus tickets office
Bus to Stari Grad
Bus tickets to Stari Grad
Buildings of Stari Grad
Yachts parked along the Stari Grad port
Stari Grad port
Another view of the yacht filled port
Bus stop to board the bus back to Hvar

We arrived 5mins earlier at the same bus stop in order not to miss it and waited a while for the bus to arrive. Thankfully we managed to get some seats as the bus got crowded. The return journey included a stop at the main ferry terminal of Stari Grad where cars and passengers could come over from Split (was thinking of whether to drive in Hvar by taking this ferry during our planning but abandoned the idea to avoid resolving unpredictable logistics with a toddler).

We arrived back at Hvar without much drama on the bus after a regretfully rushed visit to Stari Grad. For the rest of the day till the catamaran come, we decided to lounge at a port side cafe and found a cafe BB club that had nice comfy long cushion loungers that offered a view of the port side for people watching. We ordered some drinks, coffee and cookies and cream and desserts to eat. Baby K was entertained with toys and books and color pencils that we brought along for the trip and he kept us busy with clearing his soiled diapers and preparing milk for him. We realized that for some reason he wasn’t fond of packet milk purchased from Bosnia.

Ice cream brownie dessert
BB club cafe

As Mommy was paranoid of missing the catamaran, we left the cafe early to wait for the catamaran only to realize the it was late. To confirm that we didn’t miss the boat, mommy went to Pelegrini to verify and was informed that the boat would be late as it was coming back from the other islands. It was almost 30mins later and we boarded the boat after the beautiful sunset.

Sunset view, taken by my boy
Hvar port at sunset
Sun setting while waiting for the catamaran back

The trip back was also without much issue but it was getting tiring. The light drizzle welcomed our disembarkation and we rushed to put on the bright yellow raincoat for baby K. We walked to the port side shop to order takeaways (aptly named Stay or take away bar) for our dinner before the brisk walk back to the apartment.

Stay or takeaway bar
Our dinner

Once back mommy got to work quickly to cook for baby K while I ate dinner while watching over him. The takeaways were big in portions and value for money. After feeding baby K his meal, I gave him a bath, did some laundry for his “smelly smelly” (comfort blanket) before preparing his night time milk and went to sleep. Long, long day.

Croatia 2016 Day 4 – Dubrovnik to Neum to Split

Woke up at about the same timing as pervious day. Baby K woke up rather early but thankfully he went back to sleep quickly. I went to the bakery to get some pastries for breakfast and 2 lattes from Lavazza. I managed to make a mess when I toppled my cup of coffee at the lift landing, which was quite frustrating since I have less one cup of coffee and also a little embarrassing.

Breakfast from bakery

Baby K woke by the time I returned. We would be visiting Dubrovnik old town to take the cable car in the morning. To save ourselves some time, mommy went to buy bus tickets from the kiosks while baby K and I went to the supermarket to get some banana (for baby K who was always constipated). There weren’t any fresh bananas stocked and the existing ones didn’t look edible we so didn’t buy any and proceeded to bus stop.

Bus schedule

Bus number 4 came and brought us to the same stop of at the old town but instead of going through the walls to the old town, we climbed the many flights of stairs to cable car street level. It was difficult with my extra 10kg on my hip seat but thankfully my frequent runs helped built the muscles for this.

Steps to cable car street level

A 5mins walk from the flight of steps brought us the Dubrovnik cable car station, the location obvious to spot as cable cars travel above the roofs of the houses below could be seen from the street. We got our return tickets for 120kunas per adult from the ticket counter just within the station’s confines. We got into front of the queue as the last one just left. We were glad that the cable car frequency was about 15 mins and with a limit in number of passengers per trip, there was comfortable space while in the cable car.

Dubrovnik cable car 1
Cable car tickets
Dubrovnik cable car

The cable car brought us upwards above the orange roofs, offering views of the old town and the coast line, all the way till the top station. The top station had various viewing decks where we took photos, a souvenir shop where we bought a tee and a restaurant. After we had our fill of the sights, we took the cable car back to ground station.

View from cable car station
Panoramic view of Dubrovnik from the cable car station
Goats on hill

Entered the old town through north entrance where we had a taste of the narrow cobbled alleys and many flights of stairs (in our minds we were glad we didn’t stay inside the old towns, this would be hell with our heavy luggage!). We got back out to bus stop where bus arrived just in time. After disembarking at Lapad, we took a short detour to check out the beach nearby, Lapad beach. This was a rocky beach, rather than a sandy one but the waters looked calm enough to swim in. We didn’t have time though.

Dubrovnik old town street
Lapad beach

Upon returning to the apartment, we completed our final packing and I brought the car seat and luggage down to the car in advance. Informed owner time of departure and owner got someone to come help with the check out whom also offered to help carry our barang barang but it was already not required. She escorted us right till we loaded up into the car and opened the private car park gate for us and we left.

The way to Split was the same route that we took in the opposite direction the previous day, coming back from Mostar. As it was going to be a long drive to Split, we split (pun intended) the journey into two, the first half being to Neum for a lunch break and the second half to Split itself. En-route to Neum was a town called Ston that could be worth visiting if we had more time. We arrived at the crossing pretty quickly and the officers at crossings waved us by just as quickly too. The gas at Bosnia was cheaper so I stopped by the gas station as soon as we were in Bosnia. I didn’t have any Marks with me and paid in kuna, a bad move as it resulted in the gas being more expensive. By right if I had pumped in Croatia, the rate was 1.8sgd/L while the rate in Bosnia was 1.45sgd/L. However the rate changed to 1.9/l when I paid in Kunas. I should have just paid in euros instead.

From the gas station it was just a short drive to Neum center. It was a quiet town and as it was the only Bosnian coastal town, I thought it would have been a little more touristy. We drove around trying to search for a restaurant that had parking and we did find one which had a terrace overlooking the bay. Parked by the roadside next to this restaurant Bonaca with a terrace and sat in. We were thinking that this location should offer great tasting seafood and ordered fish. I was asked to choose from a ice filled counter the fish that I wanted which was a first time for me. We also ordered a tuna steak and a tasty mushroom soup. The restaurant offered some starters, on the house, which was delicious. The fresh fish that I chose came after spending some time on the grill. As it was served on a tray, it was first deboned at the table next to ours before finally served to us. The sides were potatoes, vegs and fries. As it turned out, it was a pretty filling lunch and a nice lunch experience overall.

Cold dish
Mushroom soup
Deboning the fish
Tuna steak and fish
Bonaca restaurant

We left the restaurant and parked at Konzum supermarket for some grocery shopping. We bought bottled water and some milk and groceries, taking them back to Croatia and also taking advantage of the cheaper price in Bosnia.

Then the 2nd section began and we got on to A1 tolled highway. This road was fast at 130km/hr (and people go above that) and our trip to Split took about 1.5hrs ( GPS didn’t recommend that route but thankfully Google did). The toll ticket was dispensed at the station and returned to the cashier at the exit of the toll road form payment.

Toll tickets

The drive down to Split was mostly a nice easy drive until somewhere in the mountains where we met an ice storm and I didn’t know how to react. I continued on at a lower speed which was also too high (the width of the road gave the perception that I was slower already but still 90km/hr) and also realizing a little too late that pounding of the roof was not from liquid rain but solid ice pelts, the next thing I knew, the wiper wasn’t able to wipe off some frosty gash on windscreen. Eventually I lowered the speed further to a 50km/hr (or less, I couldn’t remember) crawl until we passed the area of storm. Then I realized why some cars chose to hide under the overpass. Paid the toll of 48kuna at the exit, expecting more to pay for the windscreen when I returned the car.

Gash on the windscreen

We arrived at 530pm into the city of Split. Common to European cities, there were narrow lanes and many cars, making driving a little difficult. On our first arrival, I missed the entry totally and had to circle around. The second time I arrived, I realized that the road was so narrow (and I was not confident) that I had to drive past it again. Found a place to stop and called Airbnb owner for help, she told us that we were on the correct road and asked us to wait for her on the road. We then stopped just before the small road trying to keep to the sides as much as possible in order not to obstruct traffic and within minutes, the owner drove by and signaled for us to follow. She then turned into the small lane. Gathering my courage, I followed slowly, trying my best to avoid hitting the car against the wall. The owner showed us on foot to the small car park lot next to the apartment and I had to maneuver a few times to get the whole car into the parallel lot with a kerb. As I drove head first into the lot, and with the owner’s guidance, I still stepped too heavily on the gas and slightly hit the front bumper of big car. The lady owner even offered to park for us initially but she couldn’t drive an automatic.

After sweating over parking, the host then showed us the apartment, which was a room that was split from the main building, and therefore much smaller than the one in Dubrovnik. It was beautifully decorated though. The host also brought over some home baked pastries made by her mother, which was irresistibly tasty.

Sitting area with TV
Toilet and shower
Tasty treats

Mommy cooked for baby K in the kitchenette separated by a curtain, while I entertained the little one. Then I went out to buy groceries from Tommy supermarket right across 2 streets, not too far away. Managed to get fish, banana, fresh milk and bread. After that, I went out a second time to get dinner, this time further away, from Split’s old town. The old town illuminated by modern street lighting, was beautiful at night, having the effect of the medieval town night lighted by fire without the flickering. There were still lots of people around, presumably the same objective as me, to get dinner and experienced history while at it. There were many restaurants, so I just chose one, named Konoba Fortuna, that was found in a narrow corridor and ordered spaghetti and chicken fillet for takeaways.

Tommy supermarket
Split old town gate
Bell tower
Peristyle at night
Square with restaurants
Konoba Fortuna

As I was done collecting the food, the drizzle that followed us from Dubrovnik began to drip from the clouds above and I picked up the pace to get back and avoided being drenched. I gave the little one a bath in the similarly (as in Dubrovnik) small bathing area. Here there was a stool that helped as I could sit and bath the toddler at the same time.

For dinner, mommy had the chicken fillet and felt that it was too salty while I had the spaghetti. As usual, I brought out the thrash to throw in the central bins just near the driveway and had my bath. Baby K went to bed by 945 since he missed the afternoon nap. His parents followed suit soon after as we needed to wake up early for tomorrow’s boat trip to Hvar.

Chicken fillet

Croatia 2016 Day 2 – Day trip to Perast and Kotor

It was a restless night for baby K as he woke up many times. We weren’t sure if it was the environment as staying in the attic, the roof was a lot closer to our faces as we laid in bed as compared to our room back home and he might not be used to that. Or if it was due to jet lag. Anyhow, he returned to sleep without much problem.

As of all trips, we had to wake up early (630am) to prepare for his meals since he wasn’t ready to take outside food yet. As mommy cooked, I laid in bed till baby K woke up at 8.

From the bakery, we bought a loaf of freshly baked bread the previous day and ate that for breakfast. Baby K did not seemed to know that we were overseas and behaved normally, his usual cheeky self. We managed to leave the apartment at 9, after all the preparations.

As we would be visiting UNESCO listed Kotor and Perast in Montenegro, I checked the vehicle documents just to be sure that it came with required insurance aka green card. We had read about the confusion at border crossings and that people were made to pay additional fees because of these. In the folder that came with the car, the insurance was there, covering Montenegro and Bosnia and the other countries that were planned in our itinerary. And to be better prepared, I had also input all the parking lots for the places to visit into the GPS so as to reduce time spent on fiddling around with the GPS and stress over finding a car park in a unfamiliar city.

Vehicle green card for border crossing.

I punched the “favorites” folder on my decade old Garmin uploaded a map I got from the web and selected Perast car park and we were on our way towards the border. Upon some amount of driving, I realized that the GPS would always prefer small street roads instead of taking the main road. I had to make a couple of U-turns and learnt to ignore sometimes. We arrived at border crossing at 1015 to find a queue of cars waiting to cross. As soon as it was my turn, we were asked for passports, drivers license and vehicle documents, in exchange for exit stamps at the Croatian side and entry stamps at the Montenegro’s side, a short drive away.

Border crossing at Dubrovnik.
Border crossing at Montegegro

Then it was all about following the GPS with common sense, sometimes needing to U-turn and sticking close to the waters to be sure I was on the right path. Lining the huge Kotor bay were a couple of small towns and as we moved onwards to Perast, we also drove past the Kamenari ferry crossing, which could shorten the drive to Kotor if anyone wanted to avoid going around the whole bay. We weren’t skipping the scenic drive around the bay though.

We arrived into Perast and approached the car park that was almost full. Luckily there was a parking lot available at that time. Got off and went to the shore to find a boatman offering for ferry trips to island, commonly known as “Our Lady of the Rock“, for 5euros per person return. We boarded the motor boat for the 5mins smooth trip to island. It was small island with a church on it and we spent some time taking photos with the surrounding and Perast town. We did not enter the church as it required entrance fees and we weren’t all that interested.

Abbey of St George
Our Lady of the Rock
Photos taken on the little island.
Another perspective.
Calm waters.
Boat transfer from Perast to the Lady of the Rock.

Waited to take the same boat back and only paid upon disembarkation back at the car park. There wasn’t a lot of boats so it was not too difficult to identify the same boatman. We then walked along the restaurants lined street and chose one called Konoba Skolji, which has tripadvisor winner sticker, as it most likely would have some tasty food. Indeed the decision paid off with the delicious squid ink risotto and spaghetti with prawns. Baby K wasn’t equally impressed with his cooked lunch and wasn’t cooperative to finish it so we had to negotiate with biscuits. After the nice lunch with the bay view, we bought a cup of watermelon from a fruit stall while walking back to the car, to share with baby K.

Bell tower in Perast.
Konoba Skolji menu
Tomato soup.
Squid ink risotto
Seafood pasta
Konoba Skolji restaurant

Our next stop was Kotor which was about 20mins drive further down the same road that brought us to Perast. At almost 500m from the old town the road leading to the old town was already getting jammed. There was a public parking lot just across the old town where we parked our car. Forgetting that Montenegro were already using the Euros, we crossed the road to the port side to find a bank but was advised that the official currency was the Euros.

At one of the entrance through the defense wall of Kotor Old town, we took the town map from info counter and walked through. There wasn’t a planned route for us (though we wanted to follow one recommended in Rick Steve’s travel guide but we quickly got lost) so we just started walking around and exploring the historic old town at our own pace.

Stone gate at Kotor old town.
Kotor clock and square

The narrow streets and the rustic buildings and churches and the squares from the medieval times were nice, just like those depicted in the movies. We stopped by one pharmacy to purchase a toddler spoon as we had left baby K’s utensils back in Singapore. There was a route that led the untiring travelers to the top of the mountain where people would probably enjoy a birds eye view of the bay. We didn’t do it as it was a really long climb up.

St Tryphon Cathedral
St. Nicholas church
Inside St Nic church
Paintings on St Nic church
St Lucas church and square

After walking around the old town, we went back to the car park and saw a shopping mall Kamelija nearby. That’s when we decided visit and see if there were any supermarket to buy groceries. There was a Aroma supermarket which offered pretty affordable groceries. As mommy shopped, baby K and I briefly got up to the 3rd floor where it had mainly kids stuff. After shopping, we left Kotor for Dubrovnik, paying the carpark fees of 1.60euros for about 2hrs parking at the counter before getting on the car.

Aroma supermarket
Inside Kamelija mall
Kamelija mall
Parking ticket for Kotor car park.

We drove the same way back, with the bay on our left side. It was a longer journey now and was all ok until baby K puked. Had to stop at the side of the road to do a quick clean up with wet tissues and changed out his shirt with one that we just bought from Kotor though he had to go without pants. He must have been carsick and also drank a little too much from the packet of milk we bought from the supermarket. Later on, he fell asleep.

It was a long drive back and while we made a wrong turn and started to climb a hill, we saw a beautiful view of bay at the top but did not stop to take any pictures. Made a U-turn and went back to the main road.

There was another border crossing other than the one that we gone through that afternoon. Instead on going on the main expressway after Igalo on the right, we took the left one that got us on to 516, a smaller single lane road, which would provide more ocean view then the main expressway. The border office on this road a very small building though and only a few cars would use this border crossing. We passed through within 10mins.

After being on the road for some 2hrs, we finally arrived at 7 pm. Quickly mommy cooked baby K’s dinner and we went out to the same pedestrian street yesterday at Konavoka restaurant for dinner. The food took a while to arrive, longer than it took baby K to finish his dinner. To avoid his fussiness, I took him to walk around the area and play around the fountain. After a while, I swapped with mommy to eat my dinner which also took a long time because I had ordered sardines and there were lots of bones. Dinner costed about 220kunas.

Restaurant Konavoka

It was a long night and it started with giving baby K a bath and prepared him to sleep. After he fell asleep, I had to remove the car seat to wash off the vomit and try to clean the car with detergent to get rid of the smell. Then I continued with washing the clothes with the same smell. After all the washing and my own bath, I went to bed at 1130pm, already numbed to the stench.