A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

More Lipizzaner Stallions

31 July 2009

sunny -2 °F

Kranj where we wake up in the morning just happens to be about half hour from Postojna Caves and an hour from Lipica so we head that direction.
Postojna Caves are a system of caves that are about 20 kilometers long and a national historic landmark. Entrance to the caves is on a cave train that goes just fast enough to make it exciting. The rock is cut just high enough to go over your head. We go about 2 km into the cave before getting out for the guided tour. The system is HUGE and the caves are so much more interesting than any I have ever been in before.
They are also home to the Human Fish or Proteus Vivarium which is a blind salamander that can live on land or water. The eyes are atrophied and the gills are red. They are very strange looking things that can be up to 12 inches long. They are in a special exhibit and you get flashlights so you can see them.
When the cave experience is finished we finish the drive to Lipica, where we were supposed to have been last night. Lipica is the home of the Lipizzaner stallion.
I first saw these horses when my dad took me to see them perform in Hershey park so they have been special to me ever since. It is amazing to be at the place where it all started.
Lipica used to breed the horses for the Spanish Riding School in Vienna but now they are bred just for Lipica which has there own riding school. Here as opposed to in Vienna you can tour the farm.
Mares and foals are kept in pastures together and it was a treat to see the foals playing together.
We didn't get to see the stables where the school horses are kept but we did see where the ones who didn't pass muster as a show horse. These are used for tourists to ride.
The signs on their stalls display their names, first name from father and second name from mother. Females only get the mothers name.
Next we see the most beautiful and oldest stables where the retired horses get to stay. These horses still get to go to pasture daily. The stud farm has about 400 horses here and they are all beautiful.
After I got my fill of horses we took off towards home where we arrived at 0230. Do we really have to go back to work now?

Posted by ErinDriver 11:02 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Beach Days are over:(

30 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

This was some of our morning view.

After the night dive we sleep in a little before packing up the car. The ferry doesn't return us to split until 1315 so we have a bit of time to enjoy a few more rays and have one more short lunch with Jenny. She went diving again this morning. When her group was asked where they would like to dive they said the blue hole and another location. When they actually went on the dive it was to a totally different place. Atleast we hadn't wasted any more money on that dive shop.
The inlet we had to walk around. Our hotel was on the right side and the restaurants, etc on the left.

We hit the ferry back to Split and kept driving back to Kranj and our Creina hotel. We were actually supposed to end up in Lipica but due to there being two of them in the GPS we ended up at the wrong one.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:57 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

More of the Same

29 July 2009

sunny 88 °F

So we decided that today would probably be a better dive day because we are doing our Deep dive and a wreck dive. We ended up doing both of these in the morning. The deep dive was to about 27 meters and we did get to see some more colorful corals. There were also a few more fish swimming around including schools of sardines and these tiny bright blue fish that were quite pretty. The wreck dive was basically a sunken restaurant boat and basically looked like a bit of trash at the bottom of the ocean. We did see a lobster here though!
Divers taking a course at the front of our hotel.
The afternoon was off for us but spent running a bunch of errands like getting our ferry ticket for the return, money to pay the dive shop and doing our "homework" to get our advanced certificate.
We were going to give the Adriatic one more chance to show us something cool on a night dive. Supposedly people see rays and octopus among other things more easily at night. NOt for us however. We saw a pretty cool white fish with blue fins but Curt's flash light went out. THere were about 6 people on the night dive and 3 of the flashlights went out. Doesn't bode well for croatia divers. It was still a neat experience and not as scary as I thought it would be. We are now advanced divers so atleast if I couldn't get tons of photos of colorful fish atleast I got a certificate.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:49 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Advance Diver course begins

28 July 2009

sunny 32 °F

So okay....we just finished the Open Water Diver course a few weeks ago, should we really be in the Advanced Diver course??? I think not. My first dive is pretty much evidence that I shouldn't......
So 7:30 in the morning we are to be at the dive shop to start. There is lots of confusion and questions as about 8 of us assemble dive gear and wiggle our way into wet suits. The first destination is a site called the Aquarium. This is to be the AWARE dive portion of the course. AWARE means to think about and be cautious of what impact we have on the environment and also to identify fish. Sounds like a place that would have an abundance of fish, right??? Well this is the best thing we saw...
After a less than thrilling dive in which my weight belt falls off and I fail to sink requiring the instructor to put his weight plus a rock in my weight belt, we are back on the boat.
THe second dive is a "drift dive" at Smugglers cove. Sounds cool right...not so much. A drift dive is supposed to be when you get into the water you immediately start to drift and watch the fish without much effort of swimming. However there was really no drift or fish. However I had fixed my weight belt and felt much better about it.
Back at the dive shop we get lunch around the corner before our afternoon "navigation dive". This is the worst of them all because it is right in front of the hotel and the visibility when we all land on the bottom is next to zero.
Today we did meet a pretty cool british girl who I am very jealous of. She is 22 and was teaching english in Japan. Now she is taking 2 months to travel her way from Japan to England. She gets some pizza with us at a place called Alpha which is where the dive instructors usually eat. One seems to have a crush on her so we take her with us to get some ice cream. THe guy at the ice cream shop runs it like a Japanese Steakhouse and turns my cone upside down and throws one at me! Quite a show!

Posted by ErinDriver 08:55 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Split to Vela Luka, Korcula

27 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

At 1015 this morning our ferry leaves the beautiful port of Split and heads to Vela Luka on the island of Korcula. The ferry takes about 3 hours and is a nice smooth ride. It doesn't take us long to find the hotel we have booked as part of a package with the scuba diving shop. Hotel Posejdon is a basic hotel but with a view over the inlet and the scuba shop next door.
We are not sure if we are to dive that afternoon so we go right to the shop. This is when we realize that this shop is the most chaotic and unorganized business we have ever seen. Our first hour is spent with Bobby the owner trying to convince us to do the Advanced diver course while at the same time taking care of other customers and answering the phone. Somehow he still gets us and we are set up with equipment to start our dives the next day. The afternoon is spent relaxing by the water with our books. The different part is that many beaches in Europe do not seem to have sandy areas like we do. Here there is an area of tiny pebbles but most people are laying on the cement right up against the water. Luckily we brought our chairs!
We walked to town for dinner which is actually quite a long way. Despite the walk it is nice to be away... and WARM!!

Posted by ErinDriver 08:47 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Back in Split??

26 July 2009

sunny 29 °F

Part of me wonders how we got back to Split again when we didn't like it that much last time. But the ultimate destination is Vela Luka on the island of Korcula and Split has a car ferry directly there. It also saves us about 2.5 hours driving by not going all the way to Dubrovnik. So anyway we woke up this am and piled into the car for another 5.5 hours driving. We got in a bit of trouble at the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Since Croatia is not in the EU we had to stop and show passports. Apparently we were to have bought a Slovenian Vignette (a sticker that says you have paid to drive on the roads basically). So at the border the guy checking our passports told us to go park and buy a vignette. When we pull off to the parking lot we get yelled at for not stopping at the police. It was all very confusing even though most people spoke in English!
After about 30 minutes we were on the way again. Split just appears from the middle of the mountains when you are driving in. Our hostel was CroParadise which basically rents out private rooms around the city. We had to pay before getting the room and had no Kuna so instead of getting to our room we went in search of an ATM. The first one we were directed to did not work so we went down to the pier and got our ferry tickets for the next day.
Our room ends up being a small bedroom, kitchen, living room and bathroom for 400 kuna about 50 meters for Diocletians palace.
We head to dinner thru the palace area and end up sitting across from this beautiful balcony.
I think the city seems prettier this time maybe because we are warmer. At any rate dinner is great and we spend the rest of the evening sitting by the water watching people play in the frigid ocean.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:34 Archived in Croatia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Emergency Vacation

25 July 2009

sunny 84 °F

Summer vacation is here for us...actually we decided a couple of weeks ago we needed an emergency vacation. Since we had just finished scuba class we were eager to use our certification. That's how we ended up in Croatia. Plane tickets seemed to be off the charts so we are making a road trip of it. This morning we started the 10.5 hour drive. I wanted to stop in my favorite european town, Salzburg, for some shopping and lunch.
View from Bridge in Kranj with Julian Alps.
We made it a few more hours into Slovenia to a college town called Kranj. So far we have had to pay 16 euro in tolls on the highway which is a little annoying. Hotel Creina had a room available for us and then we went out for some dinner. Not much was open so we had a jufka which is like a gyro with a tortilla and walked by the river.

Posted by ErinDriver 08:05 Archived in Slovenia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Cancelled due to rain

18-19 July 2009

rain 45 °F

This was the look of the morning in Hallstatt Austria so.....
this is where our bikes stayed for the weekend.
We were registered to do the Salzkammergutt Trophy bike race but it was not only raining but pouring all night Friday and all day Saturday. When we went to turn in our time chips we saw the riders who chose to finish the 100 and 200 km routes. They were caked in mud and shaking from the cold. Some viewers were even wearing winter hats. We stayed much more comfortable inside eating pizza and reading our books. Maybe next time...

Posted by ErinDriver 11:55 Archived in Austria Tagged events Comments (0)

Are you for scuba?

10-12 July 2009

overcast 65 °F

This is a photo of Lobster Lake in Czech Republic where we went this weekend to finish our Scuba open water diver certification. Action and Dive shop in Ansbach arranged our stay at the Penzion Black Eagle and drove a divers van for the 3 hour drive.
The lake is tiny but used a lot by divers. We finished "making our skills" but did not see a whole lot of fish. There were carps and the elusive catfish that never came out to see us. The lake was more interesting on the outside with carvings like the ones below.
The owner of the lake lives in a cabin here and makes all these decorations himself.
Before we were certified divers we had to take the oath from Neptune who came to swear in the new divers with a dink thru their snorkel :) We were able to celebrate later with some Gamberinno beer from the lodge.

Posted by ErinDriver 12:02 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged events Comments (0)

Lastday in Sardinia

5 July 2009

sunny 90 °F

I think today is the laziest vacation day I have had since getting to Europe. Pretty much it amounts to eating and working on my tan. We spent all day next to the pool.
Observations being that Italians seem obsessed with throwing and pushing each other into the pool. That seemed to be their main activity. There was even a wedding party that took place at the hotel and by the end half the party had been pushed in the pool.
Dinner was my last chance to have my berberino wine and pizza – yes we did have the same dinner 3 nights in a row!
After dinner we took a walk to the water where the moon was reflecting beautifully off the water. Sardinia turned out to be a gorgeous place and a great way to spend the 4th of July weekend. Unfortunately tomorrow we have to go back to home, gloomy, home.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:02 Archived in Italy Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

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