A Travellerspoint blog



semi-overcast 28 °C
View Grandfolks Grand Tour on Combes Caper's travel map.

June 21st
Just checked my blogs and realised have not said about the repairs to car. Apart from the fact that Maribor was 500 miles added to our journey and we had to cancel trip to Plitivice National Park and lakes, which hopefully might get a visit if we come over this way again, the replacement window went well. We had the appointment at 8 a.m. and there were two guys waiting when we arrived on the dot. So efficient and helpful they were, and we sat in the waiting area, able to go online and check on emails etc whilst the job was done. They did try to frighten me saying that the mechanism could have been damaged, but fortunately not. So in an hour we were on our way back to the hotel for our breakfast. Autoglass really did a great job liaising with the Slovenians to get the glass here for us. Incidentally, the mechanic said that they have had quite a few people from Italy in with the same problem. So be warned anyone travelling through Italy. Now we are cosy, don't have to worry about belting along the motorways and we can have the roof open - if its not too hot! How often can we say that at home!

23rd June Right, last night in Pecs, so we're out on the town, must go and change.

Posted by Combes Caper 09:14 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Maribord, Slovenia to Pecs, Hungary

Heading East again

semi-overcast 26 °C
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June 22nd to 24th Maribor to Pecs
We decided to cross over from Slovenia to take the scenic road which ran mainly in Croatia about 20 miles inside the Hungarian border for a good two thirds of the way. Wide open plains, very, very flat with big rivers flowing through now and again. Quite a lot of arable land and not so much of the wooded alpine countryside which we had had the other day up from coastal Croatia. It was a pretty slow trip, even though there was little traffic about, the locals stick rigidly to the speed limit, which has probably saved us a few fines! Crossing into Hungary, the change again in scenery. Lots of forest, but no signs for bears, boars or wolves, so far.
Pecs is a grand town, very handsome buildings, good sculptures and cafe scene. The shoes are more UK prices, though was unable to find a pair to fit, so far..... You get 370 Hungarian furints to the £1, so working out the prices is entertaining. 2600 Hft's for a main dish, sounds so much better as £7 ! The meals are substantial and fish dishes abound, which is better in this hot weather than a huge stew or great chunks of pork. Chicken dishes are tasty too, bulk is definitely the thing. Not that there are many overweight folk around, must be all the cycling they do which keeps them slim. We wandered around the shops and alley ways and in the main square came across the Leonardo Da Vinci horse. It is enormous, powerful and such a piece of luck that the exhibition was on whilst we were here. Jeff Warmington would feel at home here as they have a little white tourist train around the town too.
By the hotel we are in, now that is another subject! Hotel Millenium is an amazing piece of architecture, which is cramped by its location. You cannot really get the full impression as it is part of the hilly street above the town walls, shoehorned into its site. Anyway back to opening line, by the hotel there is a path and steps up to a monument. It was part of a Jesuit property and the stations of the cross were built within the gated and walled area. Sadly, although some years ago the Pecs inhabitants paid for renovations, it is overgrown and very neglected. On the stairway weeds, empty bottles, egg cartons and sundry rubbish litter all over. If it was opened up it would be very impressive and with great views across the town on offer too.
Today we went out for a run to view the Nike Monument to the fallen. A vast sculpture up in the hills behind Pecs. It was our second attempt at finding it, had caught a glimpse as we drove into town. Again the immediate vicinity is scruffy and uncared for. Litter, signs and lights have been strewn and wrecked and even graffiti on the statue itself. Set overlooking the whole plain, if you can ignore the dereliction, it is a splendid piece of art. Even the sign to the carpark has been removed.
After that, we decided to continue up the steep hill, it went on for miles, through fantastic woodland, a proper forest, made Cardinham Woods or Haldon seem like copses. Then we saw a sign "Welcome to Paradise" so decided to continue, this led us to Orfu. Orfu has a lake and is equipped with several camping areas, a group of yurts (though not luxury ones), a swimming lido, eateries and so on. All set in a gorgeous valley within the the forest. Cycle tracks galore, though for the terrain you need good strong legs, apart from the route around the lake. Came across a family of Roma cutting the roadside grass with scythes and loading into a wagon to make hay for their horses. The horses were enjoying the experience, eating as they went. A sight not seen in the west for eons. In all a lovely place to find and only 15km from Pecs.

Posted by Combes Caper 08:09 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Stobrec Croatia to Maribord, Slovenia

Long haul again

sunny 31 °C
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We woke up pretty early and sent Bernie off to pay the apartment owner. They had a good chat and the owner came up with the theory that the reason our car window was smashed in might have been that it was the night of the first England match! We followed the coast road a while until we got to the motorway, then it was a long old haul up through Croatia. The scenery was much broader across the open high plain between the coast and Zagreb. In place, where it became more mountain forest there were plenty of tunnels and we came across a very interesting warning sign "BEARS AND WOLVES" pictured sloping along! We decided against a picnic and pressed on. Approaching Zagreb we stopped at a service station for a break. What a revelation. Waiter service, everywhere immaculate, and the food reasonable and good. We sat there amazed that such a thing could be! So look out for CRODUX in your travels.
It took us about 6 hours in total to complete the trip, even though you can drive at 80mph, the distances are great, though traffic very light. Hotel Habakuk is a thermal spa resort. Its busy season is winter for the skiing. Maribord is one of the most popular resorts in Slovenia. There is a special women skiers' race held here. At this time of year the ski lift keeps going for walkers and mountain bikers. The ski lift is 1050 m at the top and we watched the bikers set off, they are armoured to the hilt, they need the speed they disappear down the mountainside. It is a terrific way to make use of the same area so that business can carry on. Fascinating watching the bikers load into the gondolas for the trip to the top. There are up to 13.5 kilometres of trails for walkers and bikers. Guess what we found up there too - horses for hacking out! Wished I had known, could have gone out today as it was not too hot up on the plateau.
Had a lovely birthday dinner last night, "goose liver hamburger" was listed on the menu, and deciphering the words, yours truly concluded that they meant foie gras. Well, it was in a way, but not. The liver was lightly cooked, placed on a hamburger type bun! and dressed with leaves, redcurrants and a truffle flavoured pate with the bun top on top for good measure. The whole thing was very tasty, but couldn't face all that bread, though the bit I did eat was tasty with the juices from the liver in it. Followed this with perch fillet, never seem to see this fish on the menu at home, and crowned with a local dessert of a type of omelet x thin swiss roll with forest fruits rolled inside. Bernie's steak was great and he had smoked trout to start and chocolate torte to finish. All very delicious.
There is a Romanian football team staying at the hotel, they were extremely well behaved during dinner, though they didn't linger long in the dining room. Today there are plenty more guests for a shooting competition running in town. Despite that, the swimming pools are pretty deserted. Terrific leisure complex with varied torrents and currents in the pools and the thermal water is a minimum 33C. Today I toasted myself in the sauna, broiled myself in the steam room and boiled in the cauldron of the pool currents and jets for about an hour. Divine!
We had a rude awakening at 5 a.m. by someone's alarm in the next room, it must have been really loud, and it went on for so long we rang down to get the reception to contact the occupants.
Tonight we went for the buffet dinner, wrong move! Afraid that although it looked a good selection, it was the old story of food sitting around for hours ending up overcooked and tasteless. Such a contrast to last night when we went a la carte.
The football team had won! Much more like you would expect, lots of cheering and jokes and general banter from their section! Intrigued that with rare exceptions they all left the restaurant clutching a banana, they did that last night too. Obviously bananas are the secret to winning - someone tell England team that! Now watching Germany Ghana game, drinking cognac and coffee...... Poor soul behind the bar, although it is Saturday night, had no idea which bottle to select. They have busy night tonight, a wedding, the football crowd plus the shooting teams. All those of you in the holiday trade will sympathise. When we were finally served, the cognac was fine.

Posted by Combes Caper 08:06 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)


Trip to Pag

sunny 24 °C
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June 19th
Setting out to go down to Omis and visit the Cetina River falls, the clouds looked a bit ominous. A few spots came down along the way, which again was the D8 coast road, the D8 seems to follow the Adriatic as far as the border. When we got to Omis we carried on for a few miles and then wended our way up a spanking new road to the Cetina Falls. The last few miles there were hardly any cars, except one who seemed on a mission to put a few dents in his car and anyone else's in the way! When we got to the parking overlooking the waterfall, there was only a couple of people there, but soon we had a crowd and there was an exchange of cameras to take group photos. We then headed back down the gorge, but could not get any really decent shots to show the magnitude as all the trees are out in leaf. Whitewater rafting is a favourite pastime up along the Cetina River. On the way down to the main road there was a vantage point and we caught a glimpse of a very private little beach which could only be reached by sailing in, there were about 4 or 5 beach huts there, must be a really romantic spot.
When we got back to Omis we took the riverside route along the river, after a couple of miles the road began to climb up amongst the pines and cypress trees, very alpine roadway. There were signs for places to eat, but somehow they never seemed to get any nearer, always another 3km to go. Then we passed Kastil restaurant, but there was a coach outside, so on up we went. Eventually we headed back down, again, not finding a really good vantage point to see the gorge and river below. Stopping off at the Kastil we had lunch by the river. Super place, three courses with charcoal fire cooked trout and the most divine creme caramel Rozata (to pronounce it properly had a lesson in rolling the "r" from the waiter, who spoke perfect English) for puds. Followed by a tasty strong coffee.
Then we thought we would take a proper look at Omis, I had spotted a sign for the old town. Well, what a flop! The old town had every last inch of paving given over to chairs and tables, the cafes and bars and restaurants all ran seamlessly into one another. The buildings were old and gave shade and shelter from the sun, but taking photos was pretty much impossible. Could not find any good shops for crafts or things made locally, so we were back in the car before our hour was up. There is a great port area at the mouth of the river with plenty of sailing boats tied up.
Interesting nonsense - Bernie found out today that by tucking his shirt into his shorts, the locals addressed him in French! It seems the Brits are branded, not only for socks with sandals, but where their shirt tails go! On the subject of language, think I forgot to mention that the lad in the exchange bureau in Pag told me Croatian youngsters HAVE to study English all the time they are in school. The Croatians take their tourist industry very seriously and they find most nationalities can get by in English. Let's off the hook yet again.
In the evening we explored the harbour area and discovered a concrete path which weaved its way along the water line. The kids used it as a cycle track which was great fun because various sections meant they had to jump holes between if it was too narrow to cycle along. We found where we thought we should have gone swimming from, but still not the right way down from high above! Passing the time watching the locals on their evening rambles, and watching the football, though it was pretty disastrous for England, many more people about this evening.

Posted by Combes Caper 08:02 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Sukosan to Stobrec CROATIA

Coastal Road to Split

semi-overcast 23 °C
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18th June Sukosan to Stobrec
We took the coastal road down to Stobrec. It was slow going, but hugged the Adriatic most of the way. There were a few small ports along the way and a couple of massive ones. First hiccup was that the GPS didn't recognise the town's name. Learned later that it is really a suburb of Split. You could see all those off shore islands as we drove along. There are over 1100 of them to explore though not many are inhabited. Once again there were few lay by's for us to pull over and take snaps. The various towns varied quite a bit one from the other, some looked affluent, some promising and others positively dowdy. In fact as we came off the main road into Stobrec the first impression wasn't good, but at the port itself it is bright and cheerful and good selection of eateries and shops. We found the apartment block easily, though it would appear we are the only occupants, it still being a bit early for tourists. Here there are the familiar signs of work on buildings having been brought to a halt by the recession.
Bernie selected a back road route into Split for the evening! Very very narrow, but it worked, though some scary moments when you met cars speeding towards you. It got us right to the harbour area, and we drew up to the wharf area to find that the car park was full. However, someone came up to the window and said "oh, don't worry about that, take the ticket and just find somewhere!" , so we did, and it worked! Out on the pedestrian precinct were hundreds of stalls and all the restaurants and bars had seating out, with the inevitable footie screens up and running. They had to compete with two live bands strumming their stuff in two different sections too!
Hadn't realised that the old central cathedral and doges palace were ruins. Despite being a world heritage site it is sadly in need of many millions to be spent on it. Hadn't got me step ladder handy or I would have been up there getting the grass out of the gutters. The town centre was beautiful with marble paving, so much shopping!, and more bars and foodie places. If only we had this weather and could stroll around in the evening at home, sit and watch the world go by? Ah, footie nightmare, the kids all have a screeching whistle which gets right through you. Wonder how many will end up in the sea?
Fancying a trip out to one of the islands tomorrow, we looked at the various things on offer. Very reasonable, but you had to be away for all day trips. Starting 8ish and not back until 6 or 7 p.m. One even said that there was only one comfort stop along the way - cannot imagine that?
Having listened to the bands and wandered round we headed back to Stobrec, pronounced Stobrech, via the main road. Walked down to the harbour for a nightcap and coffee and saw a bit more footie. Saw a boy in a great outfit, the red and white square strip of Croatia topped up with Croatian colours face paint, so I was fishing for my camera when Bernie said "better not", how sad, as it would have been good to have it for the collection.

Posted by Combes Caper 08:01 Archived in Croatia Tagged to sukosan stobrec Comments (0)

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