Walking The Walls of Dubrovnik

Yesterday was perfect for Walking Dubrovnik’s Walls – crisp temperature, sunny sky, wisps of clouds, slight wind, and only a few selfie-taking tourists. Walking the walls is a “must” for visitors, but I waited a few days and learned the city’s layout first.

The fee for the walk is 200 HRK ($30), good for one day only. Walking the wall takes 1.5 – 3 hours depending on how often you stop to take photos and admire the spectacular 360 degree views.

Glad I waited, as recognizing the fortresses and other major buildings made the walk more rewarding. The beautiful architecture reflects Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque influences, and the seascapes take your breath away. In the distance, you could see a snow-topped Balkan mountain peak in Montenegro.

My next project is researching the City’s beautiful churches and monasteries. Their crosses, bells, and cathedral domes are prominent from the walls.

I recommend the walk! No words can describe the magnificent views. Photos are good for sharing but the experience will remain with you forever!

Later, I decided to visit unexplored suburban areas nearby. Old Town is its own unique, fascinating world but there’s more to Dubrovnik. Of course I got lost and contemplated calling Uber but toughed it out and dealt with my dilemma.

I shopped at the Tommy Market and it was difficult walking back lugging my bags up a series of steep steps. Locals provided different opinions on the right bus to take and where to catch it. One elderly lady was so sweet. She didn’t speak English but understood what was going on and motioned to show her the bus number with my fingers. At that point I had heard, 3, 5, 7, 8, 1a, and 1b. I held up 8 fingers and she smiled and nodded her head – yeah, at last the right bus stop!

Dubrovnik City Walls – Ideoz Voyages

Finally caught the right bus but not without angst. I knew which direction, because my flat is on a hill below the cable car – a reference point that’s hard to miss. Dubrovnik’s bus routes don’t show up on Google Maps, and pointing at my destination wasn’t an effective way to get directions. Most buses make a loop from Old Town but none of the routes seem straight forward, and stops aren’t always marked. Later I learned that the 3 and 5 will get me to the same place :o( …

The area where I got lost is Luka Gruž on the west side near the Port of Dubrovnik. There are interesting ships in the harbor. I walked there previously with my head in the clouds. Now I know how to get there and will return to continue exploring.

Port of Dubrovnik – Dubrovnik Cable Car

Luka Gruž – dubrovnikdigest.com

More later…

Thessaloniki Greece to Split Croatia

Church of Agios Dimitrios

Church of Agios Dimitrios

My original itinerary included traveling north from Greece to Croatia through the beautiful Balkan Mountains of Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia. I didn’t realize that in today’s world, travel between Greece and Croatia can be dangerous and complicated. In addition to economic woes, some Balkan countries are still dealing with terrorism, organized crime, and various inter-ethnic conflicts.

I wasn’t concerned about safety passing through the Balkans. However, after listening to tourist stories about unreliable rail links and hearing Greek travel agents lecture me on the dangers involved, I reluctantly gave in and decided to fly.

Balkans – Wired for Adventure

Some Balkan History

In 2006, the Montenegrin population voted for independence and elected Milo Đukanović as prime minister. The first seven years of independence and elections haven’t brought them much political change. “The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) were the major forces. Two seats short of a majority, they reached out to the ethnic minority Bosniak, Croat, and Albanian parties for political support.”

“In December 2012 Montenegro’s parliament voted to give Milo Đukanović (DPS party) a seventh term as prime minister. Đukanović pledged to fight against corruption and organized crime, strengthen the rule of law, and improve transparency to help Montenegro overcome its economic crisis.”

Arch of Galerius – Thessaloniki Sightseeing

Đukanović resigned soon after the European Union granted official candidate status to Montenegro. “He was suspected of personal and political ties to wide-spread tobacco smuggling in Montenegro throughout the 1990s. In July 2003, the prosecutor’s office in Naples linked Đukanović to an organized crime racket worth billions of euros. During a press conference in Podgorica, Đukanović denied the allegations as a “political trick”.

Palace of Galerius

Palace of Galerius

During Montenegro’s April 2013 elections independent opposition leader Miodrag Lekić challenged DPS incumbent President Filip Vujanović. Lekić had the support of the Socialist People’s Party (SPP) and the largest opposition party – the Democratic Front (DF). The electoral commission announced Vujanović the winner with a narrow 51% victory compared to Lekić’s 49% of votes. Lekić’s campaign didn’t recognize the results and demanded a recount.”

Byzantine Architecture – KimKim

Albania

Albania’s political issues described as “severe internal problems” are “slowing the country’s process of modernization”. According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), internal corruption is damaging Albania’s economic potential. The OSCE reported that “Albanian elections did not meet international democratic standards and violations were undermining public confidence in Albania’s electoral process”. Unlike Syria and Egypt, the instability in Albania and Montenegro hasn’t been big news – at least not in the US.

Pirates Thermaikos Bay – Amalia Lampri

I was hoping pre-purchased Eurail passes would eliminate transportation challenges during the rest of my travels, but I’ve been surprised many times. Anything could happen.

Church of Agia Sofia Thessaloniki

Church of Agia Sofia Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki Greece

This morning I flew from Athens to Thessaloniki and continue to Belgrade Serbia early tomorrow morning where I catch a connecting flight to Split Croatia. I discovered it’s rare to find an English-speaking person in Thessaloniki and had challenges getting from the airport to my hotel.

Thermaikos Bay

Thermaikos Bay

With help from a friendly Greek I finally succeeded. Can’t believe I’ve already been traveling for three months! I regret not spending more than a day in Thessaloniki but think it’s best to head further into Eastern Europe. The constant presence of riot police in central Athens was disturbing although I didn’t have any problems personally. Plan to consider the flooding in Austria and Czech Republic carefully before planning the rest of my itinerary.

Strymonikos Bay

Strymonikos Bay

Thessaloniki’s population is over one million and it’s Greece’s cultural capital and was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. Annual events include an International Trade Fair and a popular International Film Festival. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece are in Thessaloniki’s Thermaikos and Strymonikos Bays. Aristotle University is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. Thessaloniki is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites containing Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments. Notable attractions in Thessaloniki’s include:

More from Croatia…