Sibenik, Croatia. 10/9/21

Since we are home now and I am catching up on the last places we visited, I am just going to document our excursion by using the captions on the photographs.

Since it is windy today we have not been able to park the boat near the city center. We use the tenders to ferry the people on our boat back and forth. Here is our driver. Her badge reads that she is an “Able Seaman.”
We board buses for the short ride to the Sibenik bus station. We pass typical seaside vacation homes.
The bus station is in a rather dismal looking part of town. Our tour guide points out the ugly Soviet architecture and makes jokes about the terrible Yugo cars.
Walking away from the bus station we go along the attractive promenade next to the Adriatic Sea.
Like most Dalmatian cities there are fortifications facing the sea to try to ward off marauding Turks, Venetians, and others. This part of Croatia has seen many conquerors. The Hungarians, Venetians, and Turks ruled multiple times.
We mount a staircase that leads to Sibenik Cathedral dedicated to St. James the Greater. Construction started in 1402.
the front facade of the cathedral
A statue of Giorgio de Sibenico, a Venetian architect, who was responsible for the design of much of the cathedral.
The carved front tympanum
The Baroque inside of the church
We walk into the square that flanks the north side of the church with the so-called Lion’s Gate.
The Lion’s Gate is flanked by two lion’s, one male and one female. They both have manes because the sculptor had never seen a lion. Also of interest are the statues of Adam and Eve above the lions on pedestals. Eve was carved with a belly button which conflicts with her having been made out of Adam’s rib.
Also interesting are the heads carved on a protruding apse. There is no record of who the people are or why they deserved the honor of having been put on the church. It is thought that the circled head is of Giorgio himself.
After walking around the town a little more we board the bus for a trip into the countryside for a visit to a farm and lunch.
The farm has an olive grove.
They raise pigs and also grow grapes for wine.
John enjoying a glass of rakija. Rakija is the Serbo-Croatian name given to an alcoholic drink made from the distillation of fermented fruit. It is a clear-as-water kind of drink, with a percentage of alcohol that can range from approximately 40% to 65%.
I have some too. It tastes sort of like grappa.
they have a dining area where we are served a very tasty bean and pork stew with delicious rustic bread.
The stew is followed by a platter of cured meat and cheeses.
Here’s our group at the restaurant. We sit with a bunch of people from near where I used to live in NJ. They are very into being from the same place in NJ although they are not as bad as another couple from NJ who insist on smoking every chance they get.
During lunch we are serenaded by a folk combo.
We also had this dessert which has cherries in it. I ate it to be polite.
Later, because we had not had enough to eat, LOL, we had this yummy fish dish at Manfredi’s.

Zadar, Croatia. 10/8/21

Wow, is it windy today! This is the Boro wind we are told and it is the good north wind.  The Yugo is the southern wind and it is considered bad and makes people do evil things. I wish there was no wind because wind and chilly temperatures equal brrrrr.

We head out onto the promanade next to the Adriatic Sea. There are some cool things here. One is called the “Greeting of the Sun” and it consists of 300 multi-layered glass plates and photovoltaic solar modules. At night it puts on a light show.  It is daytime so it is kind of hard to know what it would look like.

John by the Greeting of the Sun

The other attraction is the Sea Organ. It is an architectural sound art object which uses sea waves and tubes beneath a set of marble steps to make musical sounds. When we first arrive it is making low moaning sounds but later in the day it is much higher pitched as the wind and waves change.

The Sea Organ
Mary by the Sea Organ. I am happy to be wearing a mask today because it is keeping my face warm.

We walk along the windy promanade looking out over the sea and to the nearby islands. Croatia has over 1000 islands. We make our way to the old Roman Forum and St. Donatus Church.  The church was built in the 9th century and I am hoping we go in, but, no. It is possible that most people are not as avid to see early Christian stuff as I am.

St. Donatus Church. How cool looking is that!?

Instead we proceed to the Roman forum which amounts to one column and three stone faces.

Roman column
Faces carved into blocks of stone. Politicians? Gods?

The next building we view is the Cathedral of St. Anastasia. The origins of this cathedral date back to a basilica built in the 4th and 5th centuries although most of what is in view today is the Romanesque style church of the 12th and 13th centuries. I am furiously flipping through my “saints notes” to find her. She is not on my list! She is more venerated in the Orthodox Church for being a Great Martyr.

Our guide goes up to the door because we are supposed to be going inside but the door is locked. So two interesting churches that we cannot see.

Cathedral of St. Anastasia, deliverer from potions

Next we go to the archeological museum where there are a lot of reliquaries and old paintings. We are told we cannot take a photo of anything. I turn off the sound on my phone and try to take one on the sly. I am caught by a patrolling nun and admonished.

Caught trying to take a picture of the Madonna and child

We stroll around Zadar for a couple of hours and then head back to the ship. Here is some other stuff we saw.

Central town square in Zadar
John near old wall

Alfred Hitchcock who once came to Zadar said the sunset in Zadar was the most beautiful he had ever seen. John helpfully went out on the deck and took a picture of the sunset. It is pretty nice.

Sunset in Zadar

Split, Croatia. 10/7/21

Today we are taking a tour called the Flavors of Dalmatia. First we go into Split and so a walking tour Diocletian’s Palace and then we ride into the countryside to see a working farm which produces organic olive oils, sweets, and cosmetics. The second is basically a shopportunity.

I do not know what my notion of Diocletian’s Palace was but it was certainly not what we saw. Diocletian, infamous for creating quite a large number of Christian martyrs, had this palace built in 305 as a vacation and retirement home. It consisted of a palatial home, a mausoleum for him after he died, and a military fortification.

A model of the palace – residence on the right, mausoleum in the center, and garrison on the left  

The palace continued to be used after Diocletian’s death in 312 and was still in use as late as 480.  In the 7th century the expelled population of nearby Salona took refuge inside the now abandoned palace and organized a new city building their homes and businesses inside the basement and on the walls. So when you walk into the palace grounds you find a mishmash of shops and restaurants inside. It is kind of weird.

Entrance through the bronze gate. You can see that the outside buildings are built right into the Roman wall.
This is the Roman basement area. It is full of souvenir shops.
Using part of the Roman building is a jewlery store
Diocletian’s waiting room
Roman road and forum area plus modern restaurant 
Diocletian’s mausoleum expanded and turned ironically into a Christian church. Bell tower a later addition.
Golden gate
Outside wall

At this point it starts to rain very heavily and we battle our way down the narrow streets crashing into oncoming umbrellas. Our next stop is at an olive oil manufacturer. Along the way we see an Roman aqueduct which is still functional.

Roman aqueduct from 300 AD

We get off the bus at the Stella Croatica  factory in Klis. There we have a tour in the pouring rain. We are given snacks, a very fast tour of the olive oil museum, and the main event, time to spend money at the shop. We buy a bottle of olive oil. There are also candies, tapenade, and cosmetics which the owner, Pasko, assures us will make our skin wonderful and eliminate bags from under our eyes. He has obviously spent a lot of money developing the site and the pandemic did not come at a good time for him.

Pretty grounds of Stella Croatica
Inside the shop

We are pretty weary and wet when we get back to the ship. We take a nap, have our accustomed negroni sbagliato which the bar team have perfected, listen to Allen, the guitarist, and have dinner at The Restaurant.

Dubrovnik, Croatia. 10/6/21

Our excursion today takes us to two wineries after a bus trip over the mountain and some exploration on our own in Dubrovnik.

The trip on the bus takes us zigzagging up the side of the mountain behind Dubrovnik. We have a photo moment of the walled city from above.
Vineyards in Croatia
We were served olives, cheese, and bread with the wine. Wine was made with Malvasia grapes and was okay.
John and I having a good time at the winery

Then we proceed to another winery where the owners had nurtured three vines after the devastation of the “Homeland War.” The entire area had been razed by departing armies. We listened to her long story in Croatian which was then translated. I accidentally nodded off a few times.

John posing next to the winery sign
Mary at the Karaman Winery

We have been to Dubrovnik before so we decided to just have a look around on our own. We go to a pharmacy museum that also includes some art, go into an uninspiring church, eat some lunch, and look out over the sea.

Dubrovnik is packed with tourists. The entrance to the old town is through this gate.
In the Pharmacy Museum we see a page from a Longobard scripture. Aha! I was right. There were Longobards around here. I feel more sure that the stone carving in Kotor was made by Longobards.
There is an old painting of Dubrovnik which looks pretty much the same as it does today.
Also there is a reliquary with St. Ursula’s head inside. Two head reliquaries in two days!

Time for a late lunch! It is a pleasure to have a quiet lunch with some of our favorite things off the boat. After a while the lunch food on the boat gets old.

Since taking beer pictures is a Pilat tradition, we stop for a sip.
I am determined to hold this with only one hand today.
We share a Croatian pizza. The crust is a little different than Italian pizza but still really good!
Looking out on to the Adriatic Sea
The walls were built in the 16th century

We get back to the boat fairly late in the afternoon. It is good that we do not have dinner reservations until 8 PM. At dinner I order veal Marsala. It is not great. I mention to the server that the sauce does not taste much like a Marsala sauce. He, of course, scurries off to tell the chef. The chef comes out to talk to me. It is the same chef that John complained to about the duck.  Now he wants to make something better for me tonight or some other time. I should have kept my critique to myself!