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21. August 2011 02:09
by Rene Pallesen
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Driving to Bled via Karlovac - Slovenia

21. August 2011 02:09 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

driving to bled via karlovac slovenia


Driving to Slovenia we again chose to take the scenic route rather than take the highway to Zagreb and then to Slovenia from there. Instead we took the scenic road to Karlovac and then straight north across the border from there.

The was a very small road through a hilly landscape consisting mostly of farms and forests. A great and very enjoyable drive.

When we arrived to Karlovac I noticed a field just outside the city limits where they had deposited a lot of military hardware such as tanks, planes and artilery.

We decided to stop and have a look and it was almost like a museum, but there didn't seem to be anyone taking and entrance fee. There were also a number of bombed out buildings surrounding the field.

Karlovac was badly damaged during the war. Especially the southern part where this field was was totally destroyed. It was pretty much on the frontline between the croats and the serbs. The United nations tried to keep the parties apart, but the croats detroyed the UN observation posts.


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The serbs responded with a heavy bombardment of Karlovac firing 5-6,000 grenades into the city every day (that is a lot) as well as by firing missiles into Zagreb.

One of the things on display was one very much shot up and crashed Mig 21...I would assume from the Yugoslav/Serbian Army based on the markings.


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The Croatian markings were different on the other Mig21 on display.

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Besides from this there were a lot of other hardware such as tanks and artilery as well as one russian missile launcher. I am pretty sure the first tank is an M84 and I think the other ones are Russian T55's.


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It was obvious that most of the equipment here had been used in action and some of the equipment was improvised and was also badly shot up such as this armoured personel car.

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Afterwards we drove through the city itself and it was obvious that the scars of the war on the buildings were very visible just like in Mostar.

Ironically the main industry in Kardovac today is Arms production and they are a major producer and exporter of handguns.

Driving north from Karlovac we entered a mountain range leading us across the border. On the top we found the Slovenian border and crossed it easily.

It was now lunch time and coming down on the other side we started looking for a place to have eat. We found a restaurant at the foorhills and decided to order todays special having no idea what the price was. We decided to skip the initial soup that was part of the menu and went straight to some very solid mains. The waiter then brought us deserts as well. In total the bill came to 18 Euros including drinks...Kim called this the greatest bargain on our trip.

Not far from there we again joined up with the highway that would take us to Bled. After a while we came to the check for Road Tolls. Not knowing how it worked and not sure which lane I was supposed to be in I had to just go through the gates without paying. After another 30 kilometers we encountered we came to another toll gate and this time I decided to go through the truck/bus lane as it seemed like this one had a cashier. I asked him how the system worked and he said that I had to purchase a weekly pass (so we did). I also asked him what would happen if I didn't have a pass and he told me that I would get a 300 Euro fine...Oouch!!! But he also said that the controls were manual controls, so unless I was stopped I would be ok.....Whewww!!!

The rest of the drive to Bled was a breeze from there on. During our whole trip we used my GPS navigator extensively. Although it wasn't totally accurate all the time for these countries it would still get us most of the way and the driving would definitely have been a lot less enjoyable if we had to use a map all the time.

20. August 2011 07:32
by Rene Pallesen
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Plitvice Lakes - Croatia

20. August 2011 07:32 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

plitvice lakes croatia


We had heard a lot about Plitvice Lakes before we arrived to Croatia. One of the travel shows went as far as saying 'You haven't been to Croatia is you haven't been to Plitvice'. It is also one of the first natural sites that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Some of the photos/footage we had seen from there was stunning.



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When we arrived to the villa we were staying in the girl who checked us it provided us with a map of the national park and said that we should go there in the afternoon and get the big waterfalls out of the way. I asked her about Aiden and how easy it would be with his pram. She said that there were some steps, that once you were down at the lakes then it was mainly flat. She also said that on the second day we should do the other waterfalls. This route was longer but flat most of the way.

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We arrived to the park and sorted out the park entrace fee and figured out how the parking worked. The decent down to the lakes was a long ramp...easy with the pram.
Once we arrived to the bottom this turned into a wooden walkway. The planks used hadn't been levelled but were just raw pieces of timber and it was very difficult and very bumpy for Aiden in the pram. The narrow walkway (without railing) was full of busloads of japanese tourists whick made it even harder to get through it. We were so busy strugling with getting through the crowds that it was very hard to enjoy and take in the scenery. The walkway was constructed only a few metres from some of the smaller but more scenic waterfalls and with all the people even without the pram it would have been not so as enjoyable as it could have been.

Fortunately the walkway was fairly short and once we hit gravel walkways the going became a lot easier. By this time the busloads had also turned back the same way they came so less crowds. At the end of the circuit we came to this little picturesque lake that had these small tour boats running on it to transport people from one side of the lakes to the other.

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We took the boat across to the other side and found the dreaded 200 steps (I think Kim counted 211) from the lake shore back up to the busstop for the bus that would take us back to the carpark. At this point stairs were easy as long as there were no wooden logs or crowds.

Dinner tasted extra good this evening...a massive trout.

Next morning we went back to the park and started on the second circut that had been suggested to us. Again we encountered the wooden log walkways and this time they just kept going. we saw other people with prams who were also struggling. I did have a carrying harness with me, but it was fairly hot and Aiden doesn't like sitting in it for very long so I only carried him in it for short periods of time.

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The walks themselves were not that crowded, but every time there was a waterfall it was really crowded and hard to get an unobstructed view.

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The walk itself was really nice and the water in the lakes has this amazing turquiose blue colour from the limestone deposits in the water.

And the water is so clear that you can see all the fish swimming around.

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It is these deposits that form the lakes and the waterfalls.

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The track ended up at the same lake as the day before so we had to take the tourboat across. One of the families with a pram tried to jump the queue by carrying their pram down the hill and he dropped their baby out of the pram...what a chaos, but fortunately the baby was ok.

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In the afternoon when we returned to the villa we put Aiden to bed and rushed back down to the park to re-do part of the walk from the day before. It was later in the afternoon so it wasn't as crowded and we found it a lot more pleasurable.

Kim kept asking about a partucular viewpoint of the waterfalls. We were unable to find this viewpoint, but there was a particular track that was closed for maintenance and I am sure that the viewpoint is from this track.

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Anyway...in terms of expectations we found that Plitvice under delivered. we found that Krka National Park was amazing, less crowded (or a least more of a local Croatian crowd) and more pram friendly.


19. August 2011 07:31
by Rene Pallesen
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Drive to Plitvice Lakes - Croatia

19. August 2011 07:31 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

drive to plitvice lakes croatia


Driving to the Lakes we decided to take the old road rather than the highway.This road crosses the mountain range and then catches up with one of the larger roads further inland. We were told that after the highway was built there was less traffic on this road, but when we got onto it, it was completely empty of any traffic whatso ever.

The drive across the range was very different. It was very scenic and the road was in great condition. The landscape was very rocky and very dry, almost dessert like with low scrubs and there were many old farms and houses that had been left probably because life was too hard up here. I would have thought it would be the typical place to have goats roaming around, but we didn't see a single goat up on the high plateau. The farms looked like they were several hundred years old. It was the typical farms you see in these areas where the farmers every year pick up the stones they see in their fields and put them to the side to eventually form a type of fence line/walls around the field. Some of these walls were several metres high for even very small fields meaning that they were very old and that it would have taken a lot of really backbreaking work to be able to grow anything up here.

After about seventy kilometres we were across the plateau and one of the first larger town we arrived to was Knin. We decided to stop here to pick up a few supplies and site down and have some lunch. Not far from the supermarket was the trainstation and here was the very nice old steam locomotive. It was built in Budapest (possibly in 1955) and was now just sitting there rusting.

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Knin was also the only place on our trip where we saw a significant military presence. I later found out that this was one of the Serbian strongholds during the was and they tried to break free of the newly independent croatia in 1991 as the Republic of Serbian Krajina. As it attempted to break off from Croatia in 1991 they ethnically cleansed the area of non-Serbs and set up their own local government. In 1995, the Croatian army retook the region and the majority of the Serb population fled or was displaced. There are today still some tension in the area and there are not a lot of opportunities. It is also close to the border and strategically located so hence the large military presence.

Just outside Knin we passed this weird structure on one of the farms. It was liks a big silo, but with a large chimney on top. Next to it there was a a wooden structure with some hoisting structure in it. I have no idea what this structure was for. It could be some sort of a furnace for melting something, but to be honest I have no idea...I would love to find out what this structure was for?? Today it looks like the building is used to store cow manure. There are some vineyards in the area so this could possible provide a clue. My guess is that it was for burning limestone (plenty of that around) to produce cement or mortar.


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The remainder of the drive was on a much more busy road with large trucks. We managed to get to the lakes early afternoon. Just in time to have a quick visit to the lakes...but more about that in the next post.




18. August 2011 07:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Coastal drive to Trogir - Croatia

18. August 2011 07:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

coastal drive to trogir croatia


The coastal drive from Dubrovnik back up to Trogir just north of Split is absolutely amazing. It follows the coastline closely all the way and it is both a fun drive and incredibly scenic. I found it better than the Great Ocean Road here in Australia.

One minute the road is really close to the water and you can see all these little bays with crystal clear water and sometimes with small beaches and people swimming. Next minute the road is up high and you get an incredible view of all the high mountains and islands off the coast. The whole route is dotted with small towns and beautiful little churches.

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The road is really winding and does not have too much traffic on it, so it is a very pleasant and never boring. To complete the drive we also had to cross back into to Bosnia only to cross the border back into Croatia a few kilometers later.


Unfortunately both Kim and Aiden missed out on much of the scenery as they were sleeping most of the way.

Along the way we stopped in Markarska to get a bite to eat. It is an incredible little natural harbour with a steep backdrop to the mountains behind.

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We stopped for the night in a small island town called Trogir. It is a charming little town with narrow passageways and very nice little restaurants. It is very popular with the rich in their 150 foot motor boats.

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Kim had found a hotel right in the centre of the old town so we had to park outside the city and then walk in. We were only staying for one night, so it was easy for us to just pack one bag and leave the rest of our things in the boot of the car.

Arriving to the hotel we found that the Aircon and TV wasn't working...we complained to the reception desk and they came to have a look at it. It turned out to have been turned off at the fuse box. We turned on the Aircon and it was quite noisy but at least it was somewhat working.

Kim went to have a shower and suddenly I heard a very loud vacumm cleaner type sound and then Kim started screaming. I went out to the bathroom and there was water and soap everywhere...the walls, the doors (even the outside of the door) and the floor. The Jacuzzi in the bathroom had suddenly automatically turned itself on in the middle of her shower and the off switch wasn't working. The only way we could turn it off was on the fuse box...so now we knew why it was off when we arrived.

This turned out to be probably the worst of the hotels (Hotel Fontana) that we stayed in...it was really unbearable hot in the room, we couldn't open the window because we would be attacked my moscitoes, and if we wanted to turn on the noisy aircondition then the jacuzzi would automatically start every 10 minutes and disrupt our sleep. And the included breakfast was also not worth writing home about.

But besides from that Trogir was very nice. We spent a fair bit of time getting lost in the small alleys. Kim would ask if I had any idea where we were or where we were going...and I'd say "No, we are definitely lost" (Trogir is a very small island so you are never truly lost).

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16. August 2011 09:49
by Rene Pallesen
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Dinner in Montenegro

16. August 2011 09:49 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

dinner in montenegro


After the Peljesac Peninsular we thought we'd drive to Montenegro for dinner.

The border to Montenegro is about 30 kilometers from Dubrovnik and Herzeg Novi a coastal town is just on the other side of the border.

Crossing the border we saw a 2 kilometer long queue of cars trying to get back to Croatia. Every car was being stopped and checked for how many cigarettes they were bringing across. We though "Oh My...we have to get back through this is a couple of hours time". Fortunately by the time we returned the queue had cleared and we were processed really fast at the border.

It was a pleasant evening in the city and we had dinner along the seashore. People were really very friendly as well.

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The food was very nice and especially the Tiramisu and chocolate pancakes were indulgent.

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It was very hot so we used the opportunity to do some funny photos of Aiden.

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16. August 2011 05:48
by Rene Pallesen
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Peljesac Peninsular

16. August 2011 05:48 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

peljesac peninsular


While in Dubrovnik we went for a drive up along the Peljesac Peninsular.

It has some really nice litte beaches and the town of Ston has the most amazing fortres defence line running across the mountain tops. It is almost like the great wall of China. In total the town has 6km of defensive walls around it.


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We also came across this beautiful little abandoned church.

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We spent the afternoon at one of the beaches just dazing in the sun and letting Aiden play in the water.

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Some of the bay have small picturesque islands and there are lots of oyster and mussel farms that have been in operation since roman times.

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15. August 2011 03:30
by Rene Pallesen
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Dubrovnik - Croatia

15. August 2011 03:30 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

dubrovnik croatia


After Bosnia we headed back to Croatia (and we then quickly had to cross back through Bosnia on the way to get there because of the geography) to Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th Century as a refugee camp after the fall of the roman empire. A Slavic invation forced the romans to seek further south and eventually barricaded themselves on a rocky outcrop at Dubrovnik buy using a natual channel and building big walls as a defence.


Click here for more photos Dubrovnik as such prospered and became a powerful trading port in the adriatic sea. Now it is probably one of the largest tourist attactions on the the eastern side of the adriatic sea.


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As usual Kim had done a great job finding accomidation in an apartment only 100 metres from one of the main gates to the city, so it was a easy stroll to the old town.


My first impression of Dubrovnik was something along the lines of 'Holy @#@$@%...there are so many stairs here" (tough job carrying Aiden up and down stairs with a pram).

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Fortunately we found an easier way that did involve very little more walking, but no carrying...so all a happy family.

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The main street through the middle of Dubrovnik is very nice and full of nice places to eat and shop. There are a lot of people everywhere and in general everything is really expensive compared to elsewhere is Croatia. Parking for example was equivalent to $48 per day for street parking...and again considering it is a big tourist destination people are not that helpful with advise and guidance.


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There are also several churces that are very nice. Our favourite one (by far) was the St. Ignatius Church.


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Inclucing some museums such as the national archives which used to be the Sponza palace.


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As well as some great little Franciscan and Dominican monesteries. These both had some great little courtyard garden with palm and orange trees.


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As well as some cool water fountains (Aiden was very happy with these) and really likes a cool splash whenever he could get the chance.


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In more modern times, Dubrovnik was under heavy shelling by Serbian and Montenegro forces during the Yugoslav war in 1991 although it had absolutely no strategic value whatsoever.

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Today It is hard see any scars of this conflict as most of the buildings have been repaired although there are some signs of the shelling.

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And again I managed to sneak out for a couple of evening photos. Evening shots were really hard to take as they were usually around the time where we either had to have dinner or get Aiden ready for bed.


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13. August 2011 05:39
by Rene Pallesen
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Mostar - Bosnia

13. August 2011 05:39 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

mostar bosnia


After Split we headed across the border into Bosnia to a town called Mostar. Some will remember Mostar from the terrible fighting that took place here during the war in Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1993. The town has this beautiful river running through it with this anciant bridge running across it. During the war this bridge was blown up by the Bosnian Croat forces but has now been re-built thanks to the United Nations and especially Spain. The original bridge was built during the ottoman empire during the 16th Century.

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The Bridge looks even more stunning at night and especially with all the mosques in the surrounding area.

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Mostar is only a few hours drive from the border up through this beautiful valley. Today a fair number of tourists go to Mostar to see the bridge, but most of them only stay for one night and then move on. We decided to stay for two nights because it was easier with Aiden. Again Kim had done a good job finding accomodation in at Old museum (more like a beautiful old house really)...the was also the only house that was left more or less intact after the war (only a few mortar shells through the top floor).

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During the day we spent a few hours on the river going for a swim. The water was quite cool coming from the mountains and there was a lot of current so Kim and Aiden stayed at the edge, but I jumped in a few times and let the current take me a couple of meters before heading back to shore.

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The locals jump off the bridge and into the river...and it is a fairly high jump from the bridge to the water (24 metres apparently). Every year there is a special festival where they do it, but now they mainly do it to entertain the tourists for a bit of money in return.

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People were very friendly in Bosnia, of all the places we travelled through we probably found the croats the least approachable and helpful.


During the war the town was surrounded by Bosnian Croat forces and the population consisting mainly of muslims decided to defend themselves. The city was hammered to pieces by Croat artiliry fire and even today it is hard to find a house without scars from bulletholes and grenades.

It is worthwhile to have a look at the following video to see what happened here in 1993: Mostar in 1993



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Mostar is surrounded by steaphills and it would have been almost impossible to find cover from snipers and artiliery from above.


Now almost 20 years later there are still many ruins right in the centre of east Mostar where we were staying and there are lots of house that are full of bulletholes and people are still living in these houses.In the houses that have not been repaired it is almost impossible to find a 30 by 30cm patch that does not have a bullet hole or grenade fragments in it. It would have been a hell on earth living or fighting here during these times.


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Inside the city limites there are three cemeteries and they are all full of victims killed in 1993...all mixed with Muslim, Christian and Orthodox. It is a very sobering experience to see that every grave is marked with the exact same year and that almost every victim was born at about the same time as Kim and myself.

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Today the population seems to be getting along regardless of background and religion.

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The surrounding hills in the valley driving in from Croatia also have old castles and ruins on them. It is a very scenic drive and highly recommended.


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We have a very nice time in Bosnia and we can highly recommend that people go there to visit.

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People should not forget Mostar and especially not forget what happened here in 1992 and 1993.

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12. August 2011 10:55
by Rene Pallesen
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Krka National Park - Croatia

12. August 2011 10:55 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

krka national park croatia


We spent a day driving to a National Park along the Krka river.This park has the most amazing waterfalls and clear blue water to swim in.

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Kim and I both agree that this park is much better and less overcrowded than Plitvice National Park. There are also fewer steps and better tracks whick made it more pram friendly.


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The park is full of small waterfalls.


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Back in time the water from the river was used to drive a watermill, which is still functioning to this day.

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The lower falls you can swim in. We all went for a swim and the water was beautiful...Aiden didn't want to leave.


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10. August 2011 12:25
by Rene Pallesen
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Split - Croatia

10. August 2011 12:25 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

split croatia


After Denmark we went to Croatia. Our first stop was Split arriving late at night into Split Airport, picking up the rental car and baby seat and then navigating our way to the apartment we had rented for a few days.

The apartment was very nice (Kim is good at finding accomodation) and they had provided a baby cot for Aiden to sleep in (all the places we stayed provided a cot for us), next to the best beach in town and it was about a kilometers walk from the central part of the city.

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Split is famous because of the Diocletians Palace, which is an enormous and fairly well preserved palace in the middle of the city. The Palace was built for the retirement of the Roman emperor Diocletian at around 300AD. There are still a lot of well preserved buildings and cellars within the palace walls, but there is also a lot of more 'modern' houses, shops, restaurants etc.

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Walking around and getting lost in the small alleys was really pleasant.


Just outside the Gold gate there is an enormous status, and it is said that if you touch the toe of the statue then it brings you luck and guarantees your return to Split (We did drive past Split a week later....maybe that counts).

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In the evenings it was pleasant walking along the shore and take in the views of the city.

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And all the locals were out stretching their legs too...

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And we really enjoyed the fresh seafood.

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Aiden loved the food and the decor of some of the restaurants.

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