Friday 28 December 2012

Dubrovnik beginnings

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

September 28, 2012

We woke this morning to this amazing view! Our very humble accommodation was in the Monastery Svete. I can't tell you enough about this place. It was perfect! We were greeted by by Sister Janja Boskovic. I think that you would pronounce her name as Hanah as “J” in Croatian is “H” in English. She was a lovely lady and went out of her way to be helpful. She didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Croatian but this monastery also houses students who are studying at the University. Sister Janja quickly found a student who could translate and we were complete. Our rooms, each had an e-suite, some had cooking facilities all were air-conditioned.. The one that I shared had neither and our bathroom was across the hall. I was a little concerned about the lack of an en-suite but my roommate said ok so we went with it. When everyone had left we opened the shutters and low and behold this is what we found! 

We had the most amazing view of the Old City of Dubrovnik!  As I said this was very humble in relation to hotels but this accommodation was so close to everything and the price was right, very right for Dubrovnik. If you are looking for an accommodation in Dubrovnik you can’t go wrong by booking in at:
Monastery Svete,
Marije Krucifikse, 15 /
Ask for Sister Janja Boskovic.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Along the coast to Dubrovnik!

Sept 27, 2012
We are still travelling the coast road to Dubrovnik. We had a twenty- minute break at a tourist stop just after crossing into Bosnia. They offered everything a traveller needs; gift shop, coffee shop, clean washrooms and for the driver, gas. I decided to have a coffee and watch the tourists. A sign said they would take, Croatian currency (KUNA), Euros and the Bosnian currency, Convertible Maris. A very pleasant surprise as last visit to one of these stops I was caught short, no Euros or Convertible Maris and they would not take Kuna. Things change and often for the better. 

In Trsteno about 24 kilometres (15 miles) north of Dubrovnik we passed a 500-year-old Asian plane tree, in what is said to be the oldest arboretum ( founded in the 15th century) in this part of the world. I didn’t have time for photos as we didn't stop but I add a mini memory to my journal as we passed.  That evening I googled this village and its’ trees to confirm what I had noted in my memories. It looked like a good place to have a stop on a future visit to Croatia.
I am so amazed by the plane trees. I had painted them in the park in Zagreb.

At 12:15 PM we arrived at the city limits of Dubrovnik. Travelling with my paintbrush and sketchbook made this journey pass almost too quickly, but we had arrived at our destination and Dubrovnik was waiting!

We strolled to the old city, a short walk from our accommodation. Our itinerary had nothing planned for the rest of the day but in Dubrovnik you want to walk. So we did! 5:45 PM (because of my tired feet and the need to record a mini memory) found us enjoying a glass of wine in an outdoor café. A glass of wine was 35 HRK (Croatian Kuna) approx. $6.05 CAD. After some enjoyable people watching and mini memory time we left the main street to wander one of the back walkways. The old city of Dubrovnik is for walkers. Dinner was at ‘Mea Culpa’. 
I shared a pizza with one of my group. We could have shared with two more to eat it all.  Italian food is very popular in Croatia. I believe it has to do with the proximity of Italy and the history that these two countries share.

Time to stop. Next Tuesday is Christmas. I will do my best to be here but will understand if you are too busy to join me. 
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Off to Dubrovnik!

Tuesday is my day to post and I am off to Toronto to the Reading Southern India book club.
These are the mini memories for today's post. I will be back tomorrow to tell you about this journey.
A wonderful book club at Nicholas Hoare in Toronto. I enjoyed every minute of our discussion about Salman Rushdie's "Midnights Children". Certainly the book everyone should read if they want to understand where India is coming from. I learned so much, thanks Salman!

Sept. 27, 212 Off to Dubrovnik
There are many ways to get from Brela to Dubrovnik. You can return to Split and fly or as we did the last visit return to Split board the ferry and spend the day leisurely travelling down the coast, or go by road by private or public bus. We had a private bus this trip.. Our driver was the same driver I had hired for the trip to Bosnia and our bus a 15 passenger. We were all comfortable.  

We boarded our bus at 9:30 AM took a few minutes to get the bus turned around on the very narrow street in front of Vila Vinka and headed south. As you can see in the mini memories we curved back and forth, up and down along the coast. Exclaiming, oh! and ah! at every turn. Small villages with tiled roofs, beautiful turquoise waters, island after island all viewed from the comfort of our bus.
It is an exciting journey with so many opportunities to take photos or in my case paint mini memories. The shops at the side of the road sold oranges and honey. Our driver who spoke very little English didn’t really want to stop and who could blame him as he had to return to Split that evening.

This is only an hour and a half of our journey. I will write about and share more mini memories of the rest of our day next Tuesday.

See you then!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Our last day in Brela

Sept 26, 2012 continued
Back at our accommodation in Brela at the Villa Vinka Apartments we prepared lunch. Our first job of the day was to go to the bakery to get a loaf of bread that three of us would share. I made my sandwich with the left overs (doggie bag) from the previous nights meal. What an amazing chicken sandwich with chips and a coke. Joyce‘s missing time had been shopping for dessert. We really didn’t have an inch of space in our stomachs but a Croatian dessert is just too good to pass up. As I share with you I can still feel how full I was when we finished this lunch.
Our afternoon was spent floating in the Adriatic, I am amazed we could still float after the lunch but the salt in the Adriatic is a big help.  Today we had goggles. There really isn’t much to see but it is fun to float watching what is happening below the water.  Sea Urchins are everywhere but we all purchased or brought with us shoes to wear in the water.  Miljenka who lives in Croatia didn’t wear shoes into the sea. She said "the sea urchins are attached to stones too far under the water for you to step on them”. You could see this when you were floating looking down with the goggles. I still wore my swim shoes each time I entered the water. You never know what you are going to stand on.

Croatia will be remembered by many as the place to eat ice cream. After our evening and maybe mid-day meal the thing to do is to find a ice cream stand, of which there are many, and purchase a scoop or maybe two. We all have our favorites, mine was lemon.

This was our last night of 8 in Brela.  They were perfect days of painting and touring and oh yes, eating ice cream!
Dinner tonight was a special meal at  'Ivandica Dvori'. They said they would pick us up, and they did but they sent a van that was short two seats for our group. Now we are Canadians and we have many rules to follow when driving in a car,  but this was Croatia. Cheryl and Karen climbed in the back. It is funny when you break a rule how much you laugh and everyone did.  When we came out from dinner for our return ride to Villa Vinka the driver had added two wooden stools so they didn’t have to sit on the floor! Clever, don't you think?

Our days in Brela are over for this trip. I think at this time I will add a little bigger memory. This sketch is what we were doing when our friend Joyce was leaving tracking signs.  

Come back next Tuesday. We are off to Dubrovnik.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Painting Days in Brela

Sept 25, 2012 Today is considered a painting day for those who paint. The other members of our group, the non-painters, are busy hiking the mountains and taking day trips out of Brela that they found through a local travel agent. We decided to walk along the coast and at the foot of stairs we turned left to see what Baška Voda the village to the south, had to offer. We had heard about a church that was worth a visit.
Lunch was on our minds on arrival. We checked out several cafes but found they were serving what we considered an evening meal; meat, potatoes and aubergine. Baška Voda had a restaurant called ‘OX Fast Food’ so we placed our orders… hamburgers, hot dogs fries and a coke. We climbed up on the bar stools on the patio and enjoyed a little fast food and the beautiful harbor view. Perfect! The clouds were sitting on the Dalmatians, no other way to describe it. On the shopping street, most shops advertised final sales of the season.  Summer was over in Croatia for the Croatians. A perfect time to visit.

September 26, 2012
Our itinerary was arranged as a holiday for painters and friends. This meant that we stayed in one place two days so painters could have time to paint. I was hooked on mini memories so my days were filled with sketching, olive branches, morning coffee, village life and today a walk to “Kamen Brela”, a small rock island north of Brela  that is considered as the symbol of Brela. Joyce walked with us but decided she would stop and watch the photo shoot of a wedding. She told us to take our time, she would be waiting, right where we left her. We continued on to the little rock island where we got very involved in painting. When we were finished we returned to where we had left Joyce…no Joyce.
Oh well she probably headed back to the apartment so that is what we did. We climbed up the 100 stairs to where others in our group were painting, but no Joyce. Back along to the village and to where we had left Joyce. No Joyce! I looked out to the sea wondering out loud, where she was, and there on a bench was a circle of stones with a stone in the middle. Joyce had gone home! Joyce and I are both members of Girl Guides and Lord Baden Powell included in our program trail signs. Many, many years ago we had learned these signs. Amazing that we found her message and even more amazing that she left it.  We had missed her on our search as she was shopping. For those who share our Guiding background I am sure you are smiling. 

I hope you are enjoying my mini paintings and my verbal description of the day. Croatia is a wonderful country a great place to visit. More to come next Tuesday.
Please leave a comment...  the way to do it has changed, again. I believe it will be easier now as you do not need to have a gmail address etc.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Our trip on the Minnow...

On Sept. 24th 2012, Our day trip was to travel out of Brela Harbour to visit the islands. You can travel along the coast of Croatia from top to bottom by ferry, a great way experience the coastal islands of Croatia.  The ferrys stop at the islands you can't get off unless this is your destination but cars and people come and go at each port.  We did part of this trip on our last visit to Croatia when we travelled from Spit to Dubrovinik.  This year we decided to give a small boat out of Brela harbour a try. We just wanted to visit some of the islands and this is a good way to do it.  

Our boat was the 'Murter'. It arrived late as it had engine trouble. :(  The weather was looking a little iffy. We had been dealing with Bura winds for the past couple of days but the sun was up there in the sky so we boarded along with about 100 other people all ready for a great adventure. Lunch and wine was included in the price.  

We travelled to Jelsa on Hvar and Bol on Brac, both wonderful stops, full of history. I had a chance to capture a few of my minis, seen here. Our return to Brela was certainly an adventure. This is when we changed the name of our boat from the 'Murter' to 'The Minnow'. Depending on your age you will remember the tv program Giligan's Island.  At the time it was rather scary but now it is just an exciting memory. Our 'Minnow' made it back to port (even though the rough sea did not allow us to stop in Brela) safely and the captain arranged for a ride back to Brela for us by cab.  I wish I could have caught the swells and the sound of the passengers as each wave hit the side of the boat in my paintings but my little sketch book was hidden deep inside my waterproof jacket so I could share my trip on the Minnow. 

Let me know what you think? Please leave a comment. 

Wednesday 7 November 2012

"Painting Memory"

We're just back from a wonderful artist's holiday in Croatia. After reading a great article about an artist travelling on the TGV out of Paris who recorded his journey in "memory paintings" - minitiature watercolours - I decided that I was going to give it a try. The first chance to do this was enroute between Brela and Mostar. Let me know what you think. Yours in travelling, Nancy.

This was so  exciting. I had to work fast. What I saw was not always what ended up in the painting. The bus trip which was approximately 2 hours seemed to be only seconds. I did take time to take a few photos but this was the way I recorded my journey. I was hooked!