Asian Wonders #2: A Thank You to The Marriott Hotel for the free Wi-Fi and The Marina Bay Hotel’s Rooftop Gardens

Remember I mentioned that because of the generosity of The Marriott Hotel’s new policy, giving Marriot Members free Wi-Fi, I am able to blog. I thank them! I was also treated to a complete hotel tour given by the Communications Director, Esther. She told me of the lovely amenities of the hotel and I told her about the kind and attentive service we have received here at the Singapore Marriott.

Remember I mentioned The Marina Bay Sands Roof Top Garden that spans from one tower to the other and you can see that it cantilevers over the third tower? I said it boasts about being the largest roof top garden in the world? During the night I realized I had to see this from the top.  We made reservations for lunch at Sky 57. If you do not have reservations and are not a guest, you probably would not be allowed to take the elevators to the 57th floor.  The lunch was an Asian/French Fusion including lobster, noodles, knuckles, tendons, ribs, rice and condiments. I enjoyed squirting lime on everything. Yum. But, the lunch is not the issue at hand; it was the views of Singapore.  So, here is Singapore and doesn’t she look gorgeous?

Here are two views of the three towers and the rooftop gardens. See how the end extends over the third tower.

Now see what’s on top and what people are doing to enjoy the gardens and infinity pool.

Now we have views from our luncheon table and the walk around the restaurant:

Where’s Dave ?

Singapore is a tourist’s delight, an architectural splendor and a shopping mecca. Come and be wowed.

Asian Wonders #1: Singapore

Here is The Marina Bay Sands Roof Top Garden that spans from one tower to the other and you can see that it cantilevers over the third tower. It boasts about being the largest roof top garden in the world.

The National Flower of Singapore is an Orchid called: Vanda Miss Joaquim. It was discovered growing wild by Miss Agnes Joaquim in her garden in 1893.  How do we know this? We visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens this warm and muggy afternoon.  Many orchids do grow wild, so why is it nearly impossible to grow them myself? I have a green thumb.  Hey, Jodi, they have red bamboo growing in the gardens. Wouldn’t a couple of red stalks look great with your pot of bamboo?

Taste treat: The Mandarin Orange. It is most delicious and I we have eaten a dozen or so each . I have spit out and saved all of the seeds. Wouldn’t it be grand to grow a fruit- bearing tree from a least one of these 50 or more seeds?  I know about grafting and how you have to graft a fruit-baring branch onto the seedling to have fruit. It is true. I will have to find someone with a Mandarin Tree.  Do you now of such a tree growing in Southern California?

You really have to be in awe of this gorgeous gracious city full of people, places and things, with no trash and or graffiti. The streets are clean or if not cleaner than your kitchen floor and even the freeway railings are polished. Their entire freeway is spotless. How about that? I heard, if you drop papers, you get your hand cut off. Well, maybe not that harsh, but a big fine and jail time. They are not kidding here.  We did see a woman standing off to the side, smoking. We actually stopped and watched drag after drag until she finished her cigarette. We made bets, and you guessed it, she dropped it to the ground and stepped on it, leaving it there for someone else to pick up. Imagine that. I had all I could do not to go up and reprimand her.  Does she know we spent 26 grueling and torturous hours on plane flights to get to Singapore the spotless city of the world and she just dissed our whole touristic attitude?  The “B” word to her.

Here are some lovely sights we visited around Singapore.

The City of Singapore is on Holiday for the next two days. It is the Chinese New Year of the Dragon.  The year of the Dragon is traditionally a prosperous one. Many of the stores are not open. Good thing because as usual I am over packed, so anything we buy goes into Skip’s suitcase and he really moans and groans over putting anything into his perfectly packed case. So, not to worry, I have an extra fold out and Delta lets you check 2 bags each free when you hit Medallion status. Will we or will we not have four checked bags? Don’t ask, you already know.

We visited a section of Singapore called, Little India.  Since Skip will not go to India, I had a little, very little taste of what it is all about.  I enjoyed being in the old part of the city, visiting India. All over Singapore new construction is the norm. Cranes and building materials are at sites across the city. This is such an industrious city, so colorful and basically has everything you could ever need and want. I fell badly that I do not know enough of Singapore’s history and of the infra-structure to tell you about the economics here, and who has and does what.

Next we walked in Chinatown. We felt like this was another reality of Singapore. There were hundreds of people watching a huge Dragon dance and twirl. After all of this excitement, we had to sit down and cool down. We found a place that looked lively and the food was beautifully abundant.  There were only two seats available, and we were invited in to sit down. As we looked around, we realize we are very different from the other diners. Remember, this is a special holiday; one of hope for prosperity and everyone is out at their very best. We also noticed that we sat there a very long time with no attention, not even a glance in our direction. It was like we were invisible. We finally stood up and started flapping our wings. That flapping surely did get the waitresses’ attention.  Then we realized, that the waitress does not speak English at all. Not even one word I am convinced. How we got the food on the table, I do not know. We noticed that people in the restaurant all ordered great quantities of food. They all left some.

Our beef and tofu soup and came out quite quickly once our order was taken. The resonances in the restaurant were sharp and foreign to our ears. The sounds triggered internal registers that we relished and appreciated. We thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by authenticity and delighted in the purity of the cultural exchange.

Beautiful Singapore:

Construction everywhere:

My favorite building with many colored shutters.

A little section of the Raffles Hotel where The Singapore Sling was invented in the Long Bar around 1915.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 31 and # 32! Rovinj, Paxin, Beram, Hum, Motovun, Grozjnan and Orpaltjo and the Frescos.

Sleep # 31: Rovinj and the Istria Tour:

With our local guide , Livos and car, we passed from Rovinj to Paxin, Beram, Hum Motovun, Grozjnan, Orpaltj, a fresco church/museum, wine tasting and a truffle-tasting lunch.

I really cannot think of a clever way to describe each town to you or a proper way to distinguish each sufficiently, so what I will do is lump the experience together, showing some photographs depicting the distant views of hilltop towns, the surrounding countryside and the interiors as well. Experiencing the hilltop views and then being privy to the centers of these towns is something we will never forget and something I recommend for you to experience first hand if possible.

The countryside of the peninsula of Istria was magnificent this mid-November. The colors were amply apparent and just beautiful.

The hilltop towns can be seen from a distance, raising anticipatory levels.

The town of Grozjnan poking through the clouds.

I included this different photo of one of the same towns because it struck me as very unique looking from a distance and actually, my jaw dropped when we first viewed this sight.

This is my personal favorite viewing experience among many unique and favorite viewing experiences.

Entering each town we were struck with the awe of following in ancient footsteps of inhabitants so long forgotten. Since we cannot bring back a particular individual, I hail you all who came before and hope that your life was good and you prospered.

Included here are some views of the environs of those who have come before us in these hilltop towns.

Olive press?

I wrote postcards and mailed them in this little town of Grozjnan, and just a few moments after we paid and stamped the cards, the post office closed for the day. Post office hours are from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., then the postmaster goes to another little village for two hours and then another.

Do you see the checkerboard flag? It is the flag of Croatia and there is a story, truth or legend, I do not know.  In 1062 A .D., the Venetian Doge held the Croatian King against his will. The King proposed that they play a game of chess, hence the checkerboard, for his freedom. The Croatian King won the match and won his freedom.  The Croatian flag is flown here with the flag of Istria and I am unable to remember the third flag flown.

We drove on to the outskirts of Beram to the tiny Church of St. Mary full of fading frescoes painted long ago, with an attached cemetery. Croatians take excellent loving care of their ancestors as you can see from all of the flowers, candles and other icons placed at the gravesites. All of the frescoes have important meanings and were painted so that farmers and others who did not read would be able to understand stories from the bible.  Our guide Livos explained his favorite fresco on the top of the back wall. called The Dance of Death.

The meaning of this fresco is that everyone dies and you should not be afraid because it is just a continuation in a different context.  The artist showed the highest-ranking people as skeletons, and depicted all the people of the community who will die, the oldest, the youngest, the most important rank and those with no rank at all.  No one escapes death because it is supposed to be part of life. No, I did not take any photos of the frescos. It was a very dark, very old church with fading frescos and how could I even ask? The lady drove miles to keep our appointment. She is the keeper of the keys and you have to notify her when you are coming and she will meet you at the little church with the door open, for a bit of a hefty price worth every Kuna.

Here is a photo of the unassuming church with a big special secret inside. This church is so remote that you would not be able to discover it without guidance. I think that its remoteness is what has saved and protected these magnificent frescoes that were here for us to see.

The lovely cemetery behind the church of St Mary and the frescoes.

Gate to the town of : Orpaltj

Little old lady with cane, broom and dustpan. I watched her for a while and wondered what she was doing with her tools. A few minutes later she was in full swing cleaning the street of her antique town. I smiled and waved to her, and our guide told her I was impressed with the fact that she was keeping her town clean. You can see her smiling in photo 2.

IN ORPALTJ

The olive pickers at the side of he road were only too happy to pose.  They even showed us from a distance the rake they use to gently coax the olives off of the tree.  They must pick, gather and process the olives within 24 hours of the first picking. Their first press is Extra Virgin. Our guide said the Extra virgin is the best, but they use second and third press for cooking which is good, too.

HUM

I would like to make special mention of the town of Hum pronounced (Hoom or whom), booked as the smallest town in the world.  Could be, but I think they ought to check out the town of Harmony, California. Either way it was a thrill to walk up to the heavy metal doors protecting the entrance to this teeny tiny walled and fortified town. The doors were opened and we entered to lovely sights, expected. The doors were used in ancient times to make certain that only desirable neighbors were entering either for work, visitations or protection. They say that Hum has become a touristy town with its two shops, but actually we were the only visitors.

In the vicinity of Hum the largest Truffle was found.

Doors to Hum are closed.

We made it back to Rovinj for a walk into the town to get the feel and see what we might have missed during our wonderful day in and around the peninsula of Istria.

Dark photo as it was quite late in the day.

Rovinj city street

SLEEP # 32

We slept on and off on  the two planes with major delays taking us ultimately HOME SWEET HOME.

I do have to report that the magical millefleur beads are missing. They have been missing since the hotel stay in Venice. Let me say that when we unpacked on the Seabourn Spirit (lovely ship, lovely passengers and lovely all around experience) they were gone. Let me say that maybe they were accidently left at the hotel or maybe I was pick-pocketed. They are just missing.  So those of you who were going to get magical beads will just have to wait, because not only aren’t they magical, someone else has them.  I will work to get more, the real magic.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you.

Until next time.

Sincerely,

Sheila

.

.

.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 30, Hvar

Sleep # 30: Hvar

Hvar is a picturesque town hugging the Dalmatian coastline amongst many little islands.  It has a striking fortress that shouts out to you that there has been trouble and we were prepared.  We immediately were drawn to the interior of the fortress walls. Inside the walls there is a quiet, a calm, and a white glow of limestone and antiquity.  Some of the doors lead to secret places we could only imagine. You can see how St Stephen’s square melts into the tiny harbor with St Stephen’s Cathedral taking the center stage as you walk into and through the square.

We began to take our upward climb to the fortress through a narrow lane full of steps. When you have finished with the steps you must follow a switchback lane up to the top. You are greeted with views that are once again, worth the trudge. The Benedictine Convent was closed and knocking usually will bring someone, but not today. The lace factory was closed as well. The museum and old prison were open for public viewing.

So for me, it was all about getting to the aerial views of the city below.  Enjoy the views.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Most of the shops and restaurants of this resort own were closed because this is the end of the season. I was told that Hvar is highly publicized these days in travel magazines as one of the world’s ten top islands to visit. If you want to lay back and snooze all day, then perhaps you have made a good choice. I would find more than a day there, trying. The stop in Hvar was a perfectly lovely day trip into the past, the present and it does have a future in the travel business.

By the way,  Skip won the Texas Hold ‘em tournament on the ship tonight.  He won $$$, a t-shirt and a hat He is so happy and wants you to know. Remember this is is third win on a ship, but who is counting.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 29: Split, Croatia

Sleep # 29:  Split, Croatia

Split was the city we had to go back to several times in order to understand its complexity.  On our first journey, we entered the city in the midst of a huge bustling Green Market. We enjoyed seeing the cabbage seller. He shredded the cabbage and sold bags full from his mound and when the mound would become low, he would once again start shredding. Only in reviewing the photos did I realize he was selling the shredder. I want one….too late.

The Green Market of Split, located just outside the Silver Gate.

.

Look for the mound of freshly shredded cabbage.

.

.

Notice the scales used for measurement of goods.

I love this seller, her goods and her lovely, surely accurate scale. She stood out as a quintessential seller of the time and of this place.

We entered Split the first time by the Silver Gate and the second time by the Golden Gate.

Diocletian is the big draw in this city, which flurries and hurries until 12:00 p.m. and then it clears out as all return home to nap. We enjoyed the first burst of the town coming to life. We enjoyed the people enjoying the city.

A good place to duck out of the rain and when the rain came it was a downpour.

Now who is Diocletian? He was the Emperor and the first sovereign to abdicate his power and take on the retired life.

He chose the bay of Split to build his retirement palace in 305 AD.   What once was the palace is now actually the town and that is baffling. At first, we were looking for the palace when actually we were in it. We wandered and the city seemed a bit like Venice on a smaller scale.  Then, we popped out into the upper part of the town and realized we were in the middle of the real non-tourist section of Split.  There are malls and shops leading to the sea, plus all of the locals greeting each other and spending time walking and talking.  We picked a bench and sat watching the parade until it started to rain. Watching the people walk by in mass felt like being on Safari during a migration. We loved it.  I have to say in that hour’s time, we did not see a heavy-set person. Must be genetic and diet.  We did see a little slice of life as it is now in Split.

Locals walking on the The Riva, AKA ( Croatian National Revival Embankment)

;

l

We sprinted back to the ship, drenched to the bones, ready to dry out a bit and thought if the rain stopped we would go again to Split as we really enjoyed being there. Also, we wanted to have a look at the Cathedral of St. Dominis, but when we did return, we found that it did not open until 5:00 p.m. and that is the time our ship set sail. We missed seeing inside, but here are photos from  the area of the Cathedral.

,

,

.

.

After lunch the rain cleared and we walked back to Split another way. This time we entered the back gate, called the Golden Gate.

Statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin who is honored for asserting the right to say Mass in Croat.

.

Entering the Golden Gate

.

Inside the Golden Gate

We liked Split very much once we understood it. The town is ancient, modern and lovely.  This town is dualistic in its architecture, but it is a blending of the old and the modern conjoined. The two do not intermingle, they just meet together, side by side.

Good Bye Split, we enjoyed being in your presence.

Our Journey of Thirty-two sleeps: Sleep # 28: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sleep # 28:  Dubrovnik, Croatia

Our little ship has been rocking and rolling for days now. The Reception has run out of seasick pills. I have my box of 10 pills. I just had to prove that I am not pregnant and sign a legal document to several other issues I do not have at the moment.

We were lucky to have a very special guide and driver to share with us a special tour of Dubrovnik and surrounding area.  We were provided this complimentary guide and driver by Signature Collections. Thank You to them. We ended our marvelous Dubrovnik experience on the Southern Adriatic Coast in a little town called Cavat. We sat on a patio with coffee and a spot of lunch while; the breezes truly caressed us. Sounds corny, but it was so true.

We experienced the Northern winds of Croatia when we were in the north. They are called Bora winds and today we experienced the southern winds called “Jugo.”  They were especially strong on the top of the magnificent ancient city walls.  These fortifications date back to the 14th and 15th century and are worth the climb. Our guide, near the end of the day said when she was told the ages of her clients, Skip and I, she thought we were going to be crotchety and not be able to do the things she had planned.  She said we did everything and she had to tell us about her early worries.  We sure did everything and she walked our too toos off for hours before she let us rest with a coffee and a little lunch.  She was so happy that we were enjoying everything she had planned and not too infirmed by the sound of our ages.

First, here are some photos of the overview of Dubrovnik from the city wall. The sights from on high are worth the trudge up the many steps.

.

.

Notice the new bright orange tiles in contrast with the old more muted tiles.

.


.

.

.

Our guide and driver picked this spot for the ultimate photo of Dubrovnik.

A look at the famous Onofrio’s sixteen-sided fountain.

We went on to see the Placa where everyone meets and greets. Our guide told us that she spent her growing up years on the Placa, first fell in love, first kiss and a few other firsts.  She said all of the kids would meet there everyday until they grew up and some moved away.  She often meets some of her early childhood friends in Placa for coffee to this day.

The Placa

We visited the Franciscan Monetary with adjoining chemist’s shop, which claims to be the oldest in Europe (since 1317).  We were treated to the Sponza Palace.

The Sponza got its name because when the wars were raging, they put sponges on the roof top in order to collect and store water as in those times they did not know if they could get out and have free roaming in the town.

We visited The Church of St Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint.

It is a 14th century church with beautiful marble work. The alcoves on either side of the church each match the one directly across from it.

We visited the Rector’s Place, 1441, and can you see the Gothic-Renaissance mix of architecture?

;

Inside courtyard of the Rector's Palace

Interesting information:  The Rector’s were picked for only a months term so that in this way they prevented anyone from becoming too powerful. Sounds like a plan.

The old port has served Dubrovnik in the past as a necessary navigational tool, but also as the fish market. There was a law that stated  you would only be able to sell fresh fish caught that day. In order to assure that the fish would not be sold the following day, the guardian would go along and cut off the tail of each fish so that by sight it would not be sold. Since food is/was such an important commodity they wanted to leave it  still good to eat by the family and friends of the fisherman/seller.

Lokrum Island:

This island  originally  housed a Benedictine 12th century Monastery. As the legend says, Prince Ferdinand and Marie Antoinette came to the island and fell in love with it. They expelled the Benedictines and built a mansion for themselves.  The Benedictine monks circled the island three times holding lit candles and cursed the island. Everyone who has owned it ever since those days has died a violenet death; again, as legend has it.

Lokrum Island as seen from Dubrovnik

To end the tour of the lovely, gorgeous city of Dubrovnik we visited a small Synagogue housed down a quaint alley and tucked into a doorway. It is classified as the second oldest Synagogue in Europe. After walking the stairs, you will come to the second floor museum and up another flight of stairs is the actual Synagogue which was exposed to us.  Surprisingly, it was all so very tiny. The women’s place was behind a wall with little slits for them to peek at the services. This visit was something we requested and the guide knew where to go immediately.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 27; Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Sleep # 27

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park is stunning in its natural beauty in all seasons. When you see the brochures advertising Plitvice Lakes, all of the photos are showing the full strength of summer and the green against the water screams out at you. When we got out of the car today after a two-hour drive, started walking and enjoying our long walk into the lakes I was stunned realizing that everything was in full fall colors. What was I thinking? Did I really expect the picture perfect green brochure photo?  Perhaps naiveté got me and I did.  November is full bloom autumn in Croatia.

Before showing you some of the lovely, lovely photos of Plitvice Lakes in autumn let me explain a little about the day and how it was different in every way from any of the others.

I booked the tour taking a two hour drive each way to see the lakes when we were told that we would dock at 9:00 a.m. and re-board he ship at 5:30 p.m. giving us ample time to make the day work. First, the ship was late in docking due to severe weather through the night. It was raining when we pulled into Zadar.  The original tour guide was ill and we were provided with a lovely girl named Marina.  Marina met us at the dock and told us that her friend was driving us to the lakes. She said she had not renewed her license, so she had made arrangements with her friend, another little young lady as the driver.  As we drove off they mentioned that the car was small, apologized for it and mentioned that it was a rental car.  Oh gosh. We started in a complete blinding rainstorm to the northern part of Croatia. We took a wrong turn, but quickly remedied it and were on our way again.

Before we left the ship, the Captain said that he had changed the time to return to the ship for 3:00p.m. rather than the original time of 5:30 p.m. due to the weather.  We forged ahead, and I often reminded the absolutely beautiful and lovely girls that we had to be back by 3:00 pm and they assured us they had it all under control.  You will see from the photos that this visit was a photographer’s dream and certainly one everyone should have on their Bucket List.  I watched our time and calculated our  time into the park carefully.  When our adorable leaders wanted to take on another lake, I flatly said we had to return because as it was, we were cutting our time close.  It was a long downhill walk into the lakes and a walk on slats that in the brochure look flat and streamlined, but in actuality were bumpy, steps galore, and big gaps have appeared in them. It is a hard trip in and an even harder one climbing out.  I had a cheering fan club and they helped to make it up and out fine.  On the way home the girls took a wrong turn and did not realize it for about 20-25 minutes and so, we turned around and headed back to the right road.  Now we knew we were going to be about an hour late for sure.   We tried for a half hour to call the emergency number provided by the ship on the ship’s boarding cards and the number did not work. Finally, a ship’s number we called asked for a credit card, as the call was $9.50 a minute. After trying another 15 minutes to give the credit card number, we were frustrated because they would not accept the card number and just hung up. Or shall I say the machine hung up.   We gave up on the emergency number that should have enabled us to tell the ship we were on the way, naughty, naughty on the ship.  The agency where we booked the trip is closed on Sunday and no one could be reached. All four of us were stressed to the maximum.

We were all beginning to panic because we knew we are going to miss the ship. The intensity of frustration in the car is thick. My mouth went dry and I felt like my body was splitting in half over the stress.  Skip is handling the situation, as he is not yelling at these little adorable girls or me either. Finally, Marina gets a brilliant idea and calls a friend who lives near the dock and asks him to go over to the ship and tell them we are on our way and not to leave us.  Another 20 minutes of shear torture go by, finally the friend called with the good news that the ship will not leave us. We drove up to the dock at 4:00 p. m. and the ship with gangplank in place is waiting for us. We screamed and jumped out of the car; the girls jumped out, we madly hug each other and we ran for the ship and they drove off waving like mad.

It was a terrible and wonderful day. It was a painful and peaceful day. It was a tender and aching day. We met new friends in Croatia. You could not help loving these girls and they gave back to us. Being under stress either pulls you apart or pulls you together. In this case the screeching and hugging at the gangplank was a sight many people saw and thought to mention it to us.  I had hoped no one would know it was S & S who kept everyone on the ship waiting and our return would go unnoticed. How could they not know it was us because we were told it was announced over the loudspeaker. Oh gosh, how to become the center of attention in one or two minutes, lasting for days. I think waiting was good for them. I can’t tell you why, but for some mysterious reason and there is a reason, it was a good thing for them to have to wait.  And it is a blessed thing that we got back to the ship.

Someone asked us if the trip was worth all of the stress. You be the judge:

.

.

.

.

Walking to the entrance of the park,

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Walking with our two beautiful Croatian guides.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 26: Koper and Ljubljana, Croatia

Sleep # 26:  Koper and Slovenias Capital – Ljubljana

Koper is a beautiful seaside city with a small and quaint city center, but we moved on quickly as we had a long drive to see  Ljubljana located in the center of Slovenia. In retrospect, we wish we would have had more time to spend wandering in Koper.

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and is a lovely city.  Jason, of Jason and the Argonauts, appeared in some of the early literature as being the founders of the city of Ljublijana.

We floated down the Ljublijanica River in a glass boat, and one of the first sights were lovely bridges. The Dragon Bridge was named alluding to the time when Jason, was to have conquered a dragon on the site and cleared the way for the city to begin it’s new life.

Dragon's Bridge

There are two magnificent dragon icons on both ends of the bridge.

We all wondered why the locks were locked onto the Butcher’s Bridge and found out that it is a tradition when lovers cross the bridge; they bring a lock and lock it so that their love will stay locked together, forever.

Other lovely river scenes.

.

.

.

.

.

Greeting us as we entered the city was a huge wine tasting festival and a lovely vegetable and flower market. It seemed like everyone crowded into all of the squares in the city center.  I took a few photos of people doing their thing in Ljubljana.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

After viewing many of the not to miss  sights, and enjoying the crowded festivals, we were treated to a traditional Slovenian luncheon.  Delicious. Two dishes will remain a wonderful eating memory. One was the huge bread bowl containing a wonderful hot, very hot mushroom soup. The other was a seven-layer cake with a flavor that was good,  not delicious, must be an acquired thing, but all the same, I can bring back those layers and each individual flavor and the collective ones as well.  Why am I going off on this dessert, well, because I will never taste it again and I want to remember it as being memorable?  The bottom layer was the crust, the layer up were poppy seeds, next a layer of baked cheese, then pastry layer, followed by another poppy seed layer, an apple strudel type of filling and to top it off it had a layer of finely chopped nuts.  Oh, I forgot to mention that a thin layer of cake separated each layer! Imagine that. Not delicious, just admirable and flavorful.

Many of the main streets in Ljubljana are named after the directions in which they are going,  For example: Austria Street is going in the direction of Austria,   Italia Street, is going to Italy, of course. Or if you see Trieste and you want to go to Trieste, take the street.

Everyone of us on the tour are double and triple layered with clothing. We are cold, especially when the wind blows and it blows! Our guide said that this is a hot day especially for November. Hot day? Not for me, as I was layered, zipped and hatted. (probably no such word, but you get the idea)

There is a wonderful ancient canoe in one of the lovely museums in Slovenia made by early people as they had to travel through marsh land to go from place to place.  Now they have the land pumped out and bridges span what marsh is left. But my interest is in the canoe, carved from one tree trunk, which was found, and now preserved for all future generations to see.  I imagined the man or men who hollowed out this tree trunk talking and generally shooting the breezes with each other. They had no idea that what they were doing on that day would be noted and remembered for all time.  It is a thought for us to remember.  Not that what we are doing on a specific day will be found and remembered throughout time, but it is important to remember that what we are doing on many of our days is and will remain vital.

Our Journey of Thirty-two sleeps: Sleep # 25

Galley Market Lunch: A gala not to be missed!

An interesting photo taken at the entry to the Galley Market Lunch.

Sleep # 25

We are back in Venice for the day to discharge and load new passengers. This is a back-to-back journey and we are on for the two consecutive journeys.  It was so nice to meet many fellow passengers, but alas, they are on their way home and we are to meet and greet a whole new group.

We were looking forward to getting lost again down the lanes, into squares, eating pizza, pasta and gelato.  But, oh, the rain came pouring down to greet us.  So, let us say you have one last day in gorgeous Venice the queen of the Grand Canal and are you going to let the rain deter you? No. We headed out dry as bones basking in the sun and came back drenched like laundry left on the line in a downpour. Rain or shine we are happy to be in and amongst the Venetians.  We got an early start and noticed trash out in front of every door tied in neat little bags.  Then, we noticed the trash collectors and their carts nipping at our heels. We wondered what the collectors do when they have a full cart.  We happened upon the answer to our trash question.

First the collector brings the full cart to the edge of the closest canal where the trash boat is moored.

The cart is positioned just right for the jaws of the boat’s crane.

The jaws are clamped and the bin is swung along to the boat.

The trash is dropped into the pit and mashed.

The bin is returned to the collector.

The collector is then on the way to get more trash.

Here are some photos of a few Venetians who happened in front of our café.

.

.

.

.

.

Doorbells: This one is for GUY!!! We would like one installed asap.

Stuffed and not needing another bite, we remembered what John, a fellow traveler had instructed.  He said, “Have the most outrageous gelato flavor and then you can tell your kids about it.”  It is raining; are we really going to have gelato in the rain. Yes. It was my choice, and I chose Crema di Dogi. Yes, outrageous and kids, it was so good I swooned. The gelato/cream part was a creamy custard flavor with orange marmalade swirled through it. If you were not an orange marmalade aficionado, this flavor would not have the same effect on you as it did me. Viva la Crema di Dogi.

We made a purchase of 15 small magic beads today in the square, and the lady used slight of hand to remove one. Skip was quick to notice and made her recount them; certainly one was missing.  He asked her to put one more on the pile and then the deal was sealed. Bravo for the magician’s eye.

Our Journey of Thirty-two sleeps: Sleep # 24; The Seabourn Spirit and Marshal Tito’s Atomic Bunkers

Sleep # 24

We are floating around on the Seabourn Spirit which is a nice small ship that is perfect for docking right at the city’s edges in Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia,  allowing a convenient walking entrance to most cities.  Not only is this particular ship and this particular journey elegant in every way, best most friendly and attentive staff, best food in the universe, but it is a cultural exchange that none of us have ever experienced heretofore. Let me give you the nationality breakdown of the guests as presented to us by Seabourn and you can see right off the bat what an interesting and thought provoking cultural interchange we have been having onboard. I have to say I love, love, love it.  Australia 2, Austria 4, Belgium 2, Brazil 5, Canada1, Germany 8, United Kingdom 81, Croatia 1, Ireland 3, Italy 1, Norway 10, Sweden 2, United States 82!  We beat the Brits by 1.  Just envision our table conversations. Just visualize what we are learning about each other. Just conjure up in your mind’s eye what we must be saying to each other and you are right. This ship full of various societies have meshed and gathered a strong appreciation of each other.  It has been most enlightening.

Last night’s sailing away from Sibenik gave me pause to think and to photograph something unknowingly interesting. I really did not know what I was photographing, just that it looked interesting and quite unusual. Now I know what we have here. Look first.

.

.

It is time to tell you that you have been looking at some entrances to Marshal Tito’s Atomic Bunker.  It was built to withstand nuclear war and was a secret shelter for many years. This underground complex was/is armed and stocked to house Tito and his communist Yugoslavia’s strongmen and his closest confidents for at least two years. Only after I photographed the secret entrances did I find out that they were in fact the entrances to this Atomic bunker but also, I found that it will soon to be open to public as an art gallery, albeit a quirky one. Someday I would like to return and be part of this underground experience. We did experience the underground bunker built by the German Army on Guernsey. It was something we will never forget.

This whole trip has been a giant HISTORY lesson. I am weak in historical knowledge and I know it. It is not possible to catch up. I have been reading, but there are so many centuries of time, events, philosophies and characters in this play that it is difficult to keep up.  Going way, way back, Neanderthals lived in Northern Croatia, and from then it goes on until we have a present day Croatia which we are able to visit. Still there is some recent history that is very important to know.

To simplify things and to bring it to present times, Croatia, once Yugoslavia claimed independence in 1991 and the Serbian rebellion supported by the Yugoslavian People’s Army, which started the war for independence. Oh, I hope that is right. In 1992 The Republic of Croatia becomes a member on the UN. There was a separatist rebellion in Croatia in 1995 and by 2001 Croatia signed something called The Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union and things have progressed to today when Our Journey of Thirty-two sleeps brings us here to see how the country has progressed. The towns and cities in this Adriatic area have grown and become jewels in the Crown of Croatia.  This is a beautiful area, which has kept its medieval beginnings protected, but they have added, super Markets, Malls, and all of the trappings they have seen and want.

There are 1,200 Adriatic Islands along the Croatian coast and 69 of them are inhabited. They have frequent ferries running all day long and into the evenings connecting islands.

Today we are in the City of Opatija. As you can see from some of the photographs, it is a change of scenery. It is a tourist destination and you know that it has been and is being restored as a tourist attraction. You have to admit is a beautiful façade, has nice beaches, great surrounding villages for day trips and lovely weather surrounds this area year round. I am happy we enjoyed this lovely spot before the fog rolled in.

.

.

.

.

.

.

My favorite sign and why:

The money in Croatia is the Kuna, which are 5 to $1.00.

This sign really tickled me because yesterday we had to pay 5 Kuna to pee using of course only one sliver of paper per customer. This sign is offering all my favorite coffees.  So it really became a bit of a dilemma for the moment, but soon solved.

You can have a private pee behind this rounded and most private kiosk and then have your coffee for the same price. Who is to know? Now you do.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries