A Travellerspoint blog

Island hop day trip

sunny 27 °C

We headed down to the waterfront to find Toto’s Tour office to start an Island Hop Tour. After purchasing a couple of overpriced hats and some sunscreen we boarded a RIB. Moments later we were barreling across the ocean at full throttle in order to be the first to get to the Blue Cave. The boat felt as though it almost got completely airborne at times as it bounced off the face of the ocean swell and we were thankful that we were sitting at the front of the RIB as the spray from the bigger waves was soaking the people further back.
We arrived at the Blue Cave an hour and 45 minutes later and were the second boat to arrive. We docked, went ashore only to line up for another smaller boat. Our tour guide said that if we had been half an hour later it could take up to two hours of waiting in queues.
With about 10 of us in the smaller boat we putted further round the coast and came across a small opening that really didn’t look big enough for us to go through. We were told to duck when entering so as to not hit our heads. We entered the dark cave and our eyes adjusted to the dark. As we moved further into the cave we could see it begin to illuminate in a beautiful blue light. As you round a corner you can see a hole just underneath the surface which reflects the light from outside into the cave and as the water is blue it lights the cave up in a blueish hue. It looked beautiful.

(Warning: The video is a bit long winded as I haven't got any editing software as yet. Skip to two thirds of the way through)
Having completed this, we hopped back on board our Rib and zoomed over to Stiniva Bay which was listed as the most beautiful bay in Europe last year. The outer section of the bay had several large yachts moored with their occupants sunbathing and relaxing on board. We cruised in to the bay and found it to be rather small with a rocky beach which already seemed overcrowded. As we were pulling out of the bay everybody on the moored yachts started chanting JUMP, JUMP, JUMP. We glanced up and on a ledge about 25 metres up was a woman who looked to be about 50 years of age standing on the edge willing herself to jump whilst her body was transfixed to the spot. A guy who looked to be about 40 walked straight past her and jumped off to the thrill of the onlookers who let out a great cheer. We gave up waiting for her and could see her still standing there even as she became a dot on the horizon. The unfortunate thing for her was that now she was on the ledge there was only one way out and that was to jump!
We then cruised over to green cave which was cool as well. We arrived and had to negotiate our way around several moored sailing boats and swimmers. As we entered the cave we saw a spot of water that was glowing green and looking up found a hole about half a metre wide which was apparently man made. The light coming through the hole then reflected back off the water onto the top of the cave dancing around. There are several theories about why the hole was made but some say the cave was used by sailors to shelter from storms and the hole was made to give more oxygen, and to release the smoke made by their campfires. Another theory was that the military made the hole to put up an antenna. We exited the cave and headed onwards toward the island of Vis which until recently had been a military base with no civilian visitors. It has over 50 kilometres of underground tunnels and was used during the war in the 90’s. We had a wee wander and decided on a local eatery for some pasta and a drink which probably wasn’t the best when travelling by boat… We boarded again and headed toward the blue lagoon, our fourth stop for the day where we had an hour to swim in the Adriatic ocean. We arrived cold from the boat trip and wandered along the beach looking for a good spot to have a swim.
The water… well let’s just say it was icy and it took all of our motivation to get in. We stayed in for a while and when things began to get numb and wrinkly we hopped out and took a gander at the local goats, donkey and sheep the latter of which wanted to ram me but I soon put him in his place!
Having mostly dried off we boarded our rib once again, this time headed to the island of Hvar.
As we entered the harbor we were amazed by the luxury yachts and boats that were entering and exiting the little harbor. As lunch was included in our day trip we followed our guide to a restaurant where we were given a pizza for lunch. We washed this down with a glass of wine and set off exploring. We headed up the hill, up many, many, many steps followed by a weaving path that finally arrived at the fort at the top and I found myself wondering how on earth the backpack I was lugging could be so heavy! We finally made it to the top and walked to the fort entrance to be charged quite a few euros before entering. I was thinking they should be rewarding us with ice cold water for making it up to the top but parted with the cash anyway and these are the views.
After admiring the views and wandering in and out of the many different rooms including the dungeon we headed back down the hill and with 15 minutes up our sleeve before departure we zipped round to the beach and waded in enjoying the briskness of the water temp this time. We made back in time and thankfully no one took the seats we had used on the way here so we had the driest seats for the trip back again. The sea seemed to have settled somewhat so the trip back was smoother then the morning trip out. Just before arriving back I heard the skipper of our rib radio the other two ribs that were with us in Croatian and they came up beside us. No one really thought anything of it and we were completely relaxed. We passed the inter-island car carrier ferry and the ribs suddenly veered to the left crossed the wake of the boats and became fully airborne. Screams emitted from the ladies behind us much to our skipper’s amusement. We arrived into port and headed to our room to ditch the heavy back pack and freshen up.
Having freshened up we headed down to grab a drink in the piazza and again enjoyed the music from the live musician before finally retiring.

Posted by loueeezo 02:56 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Exploring Split

After breakfast we headed out to explore the city somewhat. We happened across Bacvice which is the only sandy beach in split and enjoyed a cold drink at the bar overlooking the beach before wetting our toes in the cool Adriatic ocean. We then headed back to Diocletian’s palace in the afternoon and checked out the merchandise at a few of the local shops.
We could hear these guys singing in the dome which had great accoustics and sounded really neat!
Later we grabbed a chicken wrap and a punnet of chips for dinner before relaxing in the main courtyard of Diocletian’s palace with a wine/beer or two and enjoyed the mellow tunes of a live local musician. The steps lining this courtyard are scattered with maroon cushions which are much more comfortable than the hard cold stone steps themselves… However, we soon learnt that if you are using one of these cushions you are also buying a drink from the local restaurant! There’s no such thing as a free cushion!

Posted by loueeezo 20:27 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Budapest to Split

all seasons in one day

Wanting to get a picture of the night cityscape we awoke a little after midnight and headed down to the Danube. We had just clicked off 10 - 15 pictures of the parliament building, while adjusting the settings on the camera as we went, when suddenly parliament went dark. Confusion clouded our faces and we turned to the Chain bridge, (the thing we were planning on photographing next), to see it shrouded in darkness as well. Then realization hit... It seems that the lights illuminating the main government owned buildings get shut off at 1am. We gave up, headed home and hit the sack.
Only a few hours later, it seemed, we were awaiting the arrival of our private transfer from Budapest to Split. The pickup time, price and itinerary had changed several times already and the latest plan involved missing out on Plitvice Lakes and getting picked up at 1:20 in the afternoon which was a bit of a bummer. Not being able to do much with check out so early and looking forward to getting to Split we were chomping at the bit to leave. As we hadn’t bought a local sim card we were relying on Wi-Fi and had already missed a couple of Ubers over the course of our holiday due to this, and we were worried we might miss this too. We found ourselves by the curb at 1:10pm checking the number plate of every silver coloured van to see if it was ours. By 1:35 we were checking every van full stop! To our relief our ride arrived at 1:45 (25 minutes late) and we were on our way to Split!

The border crossing from Hungary into Croatia went smoothly only taking about 15 minutes. Our driver said that in a couple of weeks (the peak season) it may take up to 2 or 3 hours to get through.
We made about 3 stops on the way and dropped off a couple at Plitvice Lakes before continuing on our way. Driving through the Plitvice area was amazing with once particular set of houses having big and little waterfalls all around them.
We went through a series of tunnels which curved their way beneath the mountains including one that was over 6km long and is the longest one I have ever been through.
We arrived into Split at about 10pm and rolled/carried our bags through narrow lane ways inside Diocletian's palace looking for our accommodation which I had booked last minute through booking.com. Diocletian's palace is the Roman ruins (used to be a military fortress, imperial residence and fortified town) where you will spend most of your time in during your visit to Split. It doesn't really seem like a palace though seeing as it is basically the city's heart and forms most of the old town. It is basically a labyrinth of narrow streets packed with people (lots of tourists), bars, shops and restaurants. There are 220 buildings within the boundaries of the palace. The narrow streets house approximately 3000 people with bars, cafes and the locals' washing hanging overhead. Weaving in and out of the narrow lane ways, asking directions from every waiter along the way we finally located our hotel. As we checked in we were advised that there was only one room left and it turned out to be the penthouse suite. It was a wow of an upgrade and we had a balcony with views of the water, a Jacuzzi and were situated right next to the bell tower which was pretty epic!
Having received recommendations for a dalmatian-style dinner we wandered along the promenade and up a side street to find Trattoria Tinel. It was open and still serving even though it was a little after 11. Having enjoyed some of the local cuisine and some Croatian wine we wandered home to retire for the night.

Posted by loueeezo 19:46 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Thermal Baths, Views and another escape

semi-overcast 22 °C

As it was a jolly long walk we hopped a Uber to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. After purchasing tickets and dumping our gear into a locker we headed out to the pools which weren't quite as warm as we were expecting.
We hopped into one of the swimming pools which had a section in the middle of it where people were going around and around following a tiled circular pathway. Curious we headed over and joined in finding that jets of water were creating a current that was pushing everyone around fairly quickly. A couple of elderly ladies in front of us tried to exit but weren't quick enough and had to go around again to be able to get out of the current.
Deciding there must be hotter pools we exited the swimming pool and climbed the stairs to one of the side buildings. The pools in these rooms were between 20 degrees and 38 degrees. We went between them for a while and momentarily tried out a 45 degree steam room before deciding the stem was too thick and cooled off in yet another pool.
After a couple of hours in the pools we dried off and got some lunch from the café. Unfortunately the food all seemed to be cold to warm where it should have been piping hot. After partially finishing our lacklustre lunch with hope that we wouldn't get sick we hit another external swimming pool at the other end of the complex and found it to be a beautiful temperature and enjoyed the warmth thinking of all the possible thermal benefits as we lounged out. :-)

With time slipping away we headed back to our room to get changed before heading to fisherman's bastion for a few photo's of the cityscape before sunset and some great pictures we did get.
We then headed back down and crossed Chain bridge before heading to Trap to try one last escape room. We arrived bang on time and chose the Medieval room. Moments later we were locked away for the third time this week and had one hour to solve all the puzzles, decifer the clues and find our way out. I am very pleased to confirm that this time we beat the game and got out bang on time which was quite a thrill.
On the way home we located a supermarket and got some food and supplies for the morrow.

Posted by loueeezo 09:10 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

Segway tours and Ruin Bars

sunny 23 °C

We headed over to Mammut shopping centre and wandered the shops for a while. Louise found heaps of cool shoes but didn't buy any so we didn't blow the budget. Eventually we contemplated what to have for lunch and after evaluating prices decided on a couple of large slices of pizza which only cost $1.05 each. With the day escaping us we headed over to the opera house to book a segway tour nearby. With the only option being 6pm we had a couple of hours to utilize. Reeling from the closeness of the previous nights escape room we figured out where other nearby escape rooms were and plodded their way. After getting lost and refinding our way we finally found the first one which was frustratingly closed. We googled and found another one and Uber'd it there only to find it closed as well. With time running out we crossed the road looking for something to eat and drink. We wandered in to an establishment that looked popular and ordered a couple of drinks. By the time we had paid for them we found out that this was solely a drinking establishment and sold no food of any kind. We downed our drinks and headed back to the Opera house to begin our tour.
The segway tour was a lot of fun. We headed out zooming between pedestrians and got to see a lot of the famous sites including St Stephen's Basilica and Liberty Square and crossed Margaret bridge before doing a tour of Margaret Island. St Stephens was preserved during WWII only due to the fact that the bomb, that plowed through it's dome and into the church below, did not explode. The church also has a mummified arm and leg in it apparently. Another interesting fact or two is that no other building in Budapest could be / can be higher then the Basilica church or Parliament buildings. The Soviets however put two red stars up - one on top of the dome and one on top of parliament to show that communism was above the church, state and everything else!
On the way back we passed by Parliament whose design was based on the British parliament and looks quite magnificent!
Despite our misfortune in Prague I was still motivated to try some local cuisine so we stopped off at a Hungarian restaurant which turned out to be a bit over priced. We ordered the tasting platter for entree and I guess the waiter thought that was all we wanted as he took our menus away. Having completed the tasting platter which sported Hungarian salami, fried livers (we didn't finish those), goose crackling, cream cheese paste, tomatoes, cucumber, cured ham, butter and bread we weren't hungry enough to order a whole main each so I ordered an apple strudel and Louise got a sour cherry strudel.
We then headed to a ruin bar called Instant. Ruin bars are abandoned buildings in the downtown area that are so called not safe for residential living but OK to run a bar out of. Instant is like a whole three story building with interconnected rooms which are set up differently but still using the old building. i.e. the bathroom has been gutted, pipes capped off and a couch put into the room. All the rooms have mismatched furniture and random designs. They had several eating areas, a bar upstairs and downstairs, foosball tables, lounge rooms etc. incorporating the whole apartment building. After a wander through we headed home for a well earned rest.

Posted by loueeezo 14:46 Archived in Hungary Comments (0)

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