My mom and dad took a Mediterranean cruise about this time last year, to honor their 40 years of marriage. After an enjoyable and most uneventful cruise, my mom fell quite sick on the last day of the trip. They had to extend their stay a week, with my mom spending most of that in a state-run hospital in Civitavecchia, Italy. Recently my mom finished up her own series of blog posts about the trip, so I invite you to let her tell you the rest of the story.
I don’t often use my blog to pimp other blogs, but today is Mother’s Day here in the U.S., and we all make exceptions for our moms, right? Continue reading “Mother’s Day recognition”
Here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about me. It’s in no particular order.
Here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about me. It’s in no particular order. Continue reading “Things you probably don’t know about me”
I had a brief but funny moment at the border yesterday. The Croatian border guard opened my passport, flipped through the pages for a moment, and said, “Mr. Gilman, where are you going today?” Answering wasn’t so easy for me. “I can’t pronounce it,” I said. “It’s Loo … Lube …” Then, one of the two beautiful young Slovenian women sharing my compartment laughed and said, “Ljubljana.” I guess the answer was okay. The border guard stamped my passport.
I arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, yesterday afternoon. I’ve only walked around for a few hours, but I think this is the most beautiful city I’ve seen on this trip yet. For a capital city, it’s quite small. The city’s center is very easy to walk around. A very narrow river runs through it. There are cafes, bridges, and statues all around. A castle is perched on a hill just above the center. Continue reading “Sightseeing and comfortable weather in Ljubljana, Slovenia”
The local beer was generally one of two brands, Ožjusko and Karlovačko. The quality of both was inconsistent, especially when served on tap. A couple times I was poured beer that tasted almost stale, leading me at first to believe the way the bars were storing and serving the beer was the problem, not the beer itself.
For the sake of completeness, I figured I should post an entry about Croatian beer. In short, it wasn’t very good. Continue reading “Croatian beer: Ožjusko and Karlovačko”
I spent one last night in Croatia, back in Zagreb. After the long train ride back from Split, I was happy to stop for the night, particularly in a city where I could already find my way around.
The weather has improved dramatically. I don’t know if a front has come through, or if Zagreb just has drier weather because it is further inland, or a bit of both. In any case, it made for a very pleasant evening. I had a nice dinner and a drink in a cafe before turning in relatively early.
If all goes well, I’m moving along to Slovenia today. I’ll report more when I get there.
After starting the day with broiling hot weather, a cloud cover came through, along with an ever-so-slight breeze, so the evening is off to a pleasant start. I’m suddenly optimistic about sleeping tonight.
I’ve booked a room for tomorrow night, after I leave Split, and it’s air conditioned. I’m totally ready for that.
Still, I’m not sure what happened to all the tourists here. It’s Saturday night, and although it’s still early here, it’s really dead. Restaurants and bars should be filling up, but it’s been quiet all day. Maybe there are a lot of Sunday to Saturday vacation rentals. Maybe there are fewer ferries or buses on Saturday. Maybe folks just got sick of the heat and went home.
I think this is the hottest, muggiest day yet. Despite it being Saturday, the waterfront is virtually deserted, save a handful seeking respite in the shade of a cafe, like me. A small backpacker colony has sprung up under the shade of a couple nearby palm trees. I may join them soon.
I can’t say this with any authority, because this city has a conspicuous lack of outdoor thermometers, but I think this is the hottest, muggiest day yet. Despite it being Saturday, the waterfront is virtually deserted, save a handful seeking respite in the shade of a cafe, like me. A small backpacker colony has sprung up under the shade of a couple nearby palm trees. I may join them soon.
Every movement makes me feel unpleasant. There’s a Coke in front of me, but I’ve hardly drunk it, because lifting the glass seems like too much work. I’m sweating everywhere I have hair, and then some places I don’t, few as they are. Even as I write this message, I fear dropping my phone for the sweat on my fingertips.
I rejoice for every breeze. From the window of my room yesterday, I saw cumulus clouds in the mountains outside the city. I decided to do a rain dance to draw them closer. I realized I didn’t know how to do a rain dance, so I just danced and hoped the weather gods would give me credit for trying. Instead, they punished me for my insolence, and the clouds dissipated. There are clouds forming again today, but I will no longer tempt fate.
A few places here are theoretically air conditioned, but they aren’t fooling anyone. Even McDonald’s had its doors propped wide open because its air conditioner couldn’t keep up. I was in an air-conditioned Internet cafe for an hour, and it was pleasant until I was no longer alone in the room. One person it could handle; three people were too many.
I knew my appetite would eventually come back, and it finally did last night. I haven’t really wanted to eat since I was in Poland, so I ended up missing out on Hungarian cuisine altogether, which is almost a crime, given its multitude of influences. All I really ate in Hungary were some light snacks in my hotel’s bar, where the entire menu was Western food, and breakfast, which was also Western.
The cuisine here in Split seems to be heavily influenced by its Italian neighbors just across the Adriatic Sea. The restaurant I went to, in a small square in the old city, drew quite a crowd. I arrived early, around 7 pm when only Germans were eating, but by the time I left, around 9 pm, the manager was turning people away. I ordered a first and second dish, Italian style, and even left some room for dessert and coffee.
The food was … okay. The first dish, which was tortellini with a light cheese sauce, was quite good. The second dish, a steak with green pepper sauce, was merely okay, although I was so hungry I probably would have eaten a steak with peanut butter sauce if they served it to me. The dessert was a creme caramel, which I think was soaked in Grand Marnier or Cointreau or something. It was just okay, almost disappointing. My stomach wasn’t complaining, though. At least the coffee was good, and the house wine was good, too.
Although I may sound a little disappointed, I haven’t written off the food here yet. If my appetite remains, I’ll try someplace more seafood oriented tonight. I walked through the seafood market yesterday morning, and it was impressive, so the chefs here would clearly have a lot to work with. I’d love some shrimp or fish … or both.
Another day in Split, and I’m at the beach again. Yesterday I think I over-exposed myself a bit, and this hot weather has taken away my appetite, so I think I have been under-eating. When I’ve gotten back to my room in the evenings, I’ve fallen asleep just out of exhaustion, but after a few hours, I wake up drenched and realize again how hot it is. Then when dawn brings a light breeze, I get a couple more hours sleep before giving up.
It’s interesting that the land here drops off dramatically to the sea. All around you see high cliffs. It means there are few sandy beaches, but it’s great that there are trees within a few yards of the shoreline. So, on a day like today, I can find a tree, get some real shade, and enjoy being at the beach at the same time. It’s pretty sweet..
I arrived in Split, Croatia, this afternoon. Finding accommodation was not a huge problem, but I did have to turn a room down. A little old lady met passengers coming off the train and offered a room. I’ve had good luck getting rooms this way, so I decided to try again.
It was painful to follow the woman back to her place. She had recently had some sort of operation, so the three-minute walk from the train station took about 15. Then she showed me her place. It smelled like piss, and it was filthy. I told her no thanks. She showed me another room and offered to lower the price. I told her she could show me any room in the house, I still wouldn’t use the bathroom at any price. Then she showed me the kitchen, which was as dirty as the bathroom. I told her I had to go. I grabbed my bag and ran, knowing she couldn’t catch me.
I walked back to the train station and threw my bag in a locker. Then I went to a place recommended in my guidebook. They found me a place quite quickly, it’s centrally located, and although it’s not “German clean”, it’s clean enough.
The waterfront here is beautiful. It’s like a mini Nice. I’m gonna finish my beer, get my bag from my locker, take a shower, and find some dinner.
The train ride from Zagreb to Split has had some stunning scenery. We’re up in the mountains, and I’ve been seeing valleys below with lakes and streams and shallow rapids, with campsites and people wading and canoeing. It makes me want to hop off.
The train ride from Zagreb to Split in Croatia has some stunning scenery. We’re up in the mountains, and I’ve been seeing valleys below with lakes and streams and shallow rapids, with campsites and people wading and canoeing. It makes me want to hop off.
The downside is that this mountainous route is not especially straight, so the train changes speed constantly as it negotiates curves. This has left me feeling a bit seasick. Fortunately there are snacks on this train, so I got a sandwich and a beer, and I already feel a little better.
Like many of the cities I’ve visited recently, you have to look to the historic center to appreciate Zagreb. Apart from the center, it’s a concrete, Communist-era shit-hole.
I’m at the train station in Zagreb, Croatia, awaiting a train to my next destination, which is along the Adriatic coast. I spent only one night here, mainly to break up a long train ride, but I’ve found this to be a charming city. Like many of the cities I’ve visited recently, you have to look to the historic center to appreciate Zagreb. Apart from the center, it’s a concrete, Communist-era shithole. However, I’m looking forward to spending another night here on my trip back from the coast. Continue reading “Overnight in Zagreb”