A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 6: Mostar Day Trip

The previous instalment on Dubrovnik’s Old Town is here.

Well, Mostar, what can I say… It’s beautiful, its vibrant, its where east meets west, where the European Union meets the old Ottoman Empire, where Christianity meets Islam, where a river divides and a bridge reunites.. Where one Border Collie met a mate… I could go on but the sense of deep history does pervade this place and even a dog can feel it.

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Me and me Humans set out for our days adventure from Dubrovnik quite early (for us) at around 9am thinking 2 or 3 hour trip to Mostar, no worries… Well the roads and Bosnian drivers (who are even worse than Croatian drivers and that’s saying something) conspired against us so what was supposed to be a lunch time arrival turned out to be an afternoon arrival. Oh well it was a fascinating trip through Bosnia-Herzegovina that’s for sure.

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Bosnia-Herzegovina is not a European Union member although it is a potential candidate within the next few years and EU investment here is huge.

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It needs it as the country is extremely poor by European standards.

Evidence of the Balkan wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia are everywhere.

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Ethnic divides show in defaced road signs where the Serbian Cyrillic writing system is crossed out in favour of the Latin script. The tensions with neighbouring Serbia are still very strong.

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Mostar Central Markets

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Mostar city centre is quite small and compact around the famous bridge with loads of really interesting markets and food stalls on both sides of the river, nothing tacky here.

 

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There were hardly any other dogs that I saw in Mostar but I did meet this guy and we became great mates for the day!

 

 

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OK, I’m on the Mostar Bridge, are we done?
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Get a move on, this thing looks like it will crumble any minute. It came down once before ya know…

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But is it safe?

Actually the bridge known as the Stari Most (meaning Old Bridge and origins of the cities name, Mostar) was rebuilt in 2004 based on the foundations of the original old bridge which was destroyed in 1993 by the Bosnian Croats during the Balkans conflict. There is a brief  YouTube video from the BBC of the bridge coming down here.

 

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Loads of tourists but where are the famous Bosnian boy divers diving into the river for money?

 

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“Don’t Forget”.

A poignant reminder of what happened here in 1993 and the continued conflicts in the rest of Bosnia-Herzegovina that lead to ethnic cleansing and finally culminated in the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 mainly Muslim Bosniak men and boys in July 1995…

 

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Its interesting to see which countries pitched in to pay for the rebuilding of the Mostar Bridge…

 

 

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As is usual for us late in the afternoon, we crave some sustenance and this brilliant little restaurant, Babilon, perched on the bank of the Neretva River fit the bill perfectly as it allowed dogs in too, well at least on the outdoor tables.

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Now I just need to order off that spare menu, hand it over…

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Ba! Once again I get the scraps under the table… Excellent view at least.

 

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And that’s it folks, I wont bore you with the long haul home to Dubrovnik in the dark suffice to say we made it in one piece!

In my next instalment I think it’s time to move on from politics and conflicts and on a more positive note focus on me BC belly! I try mussels and oysters and visit the Great Wall of Croatia!

R

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A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 5: Dubrovnik Old Town

The previous instalment with me in the water can be found here.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town is fantastically beautiful, picture postcard stuff. I admit a tad full of tourists especially before 4:30 pm when the Cruise Ships disgorge so many Humans that I get a dog panic attack yearning for the farm and those calming sheep eh…

Now here I will share a few photos from me Humans collection but I have to warn you there is a sting in the tail of this paradise and it’s called 1991. More later.

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Dubrovnik is a walled fortress city founded in the 7th century AD which blows me little BC white socks off for age. It’s been around a while then and at one time a City-State competitor to Venice and the Venetian empire. The city wall is still pretty much intact and my Humans came back from a walking tour of it full of excitement and awe.

 

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Now the one thing I disliked about Dubrovnik was its Putty-Tat population. I mean there were thousands of these wild felines everywhere begging for food. And they weren’t afraid of me either, one Kitten nearly took me eye out rather than back down as I approached. The local restaurant waiters have water pistols to try and dissuade them from pestering their customers. I heard a local explaining to me Humans that sadly (yep even I thought this was sad) the population diminishes to only a few hundred in winter when food and tourists dry up. I’m guessing only the hardy survive.

 

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Main Drag

The main drag and no the pavement is not wet it’s just very very slippery as my skidding and loss of paw traction can attest.

 

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Small Boats Harbour

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A view from the city walls with Lokrum Island in the background. The island is a short boat trip away and well worth a day’s beaching and trail walking.

 

Now you just haven’t seen Dubrovnik unless you take the cable car up to the top of the hill overlooking the city to Fort Imperial. The views are very special indeed and it’s easy to see why this city is a UNESCO World Heritage site (since 1979).

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Utterly breath taking eh? And I bet Italy is not far away out there somewhere, just sayin…

 

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Now this is a photo me Humans took from the top, what a jaw dropping view? But take a look at this next photo…

 

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This is the same view taken in 1991 after the fighting and siege of Dubrovnik during the Croatian war of independence from Yugoslavia. Even the cable car and its supports have been destroyed. You Humans are a violent bunch!

 

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I overheard me Humans talking to an older Croatian Human explaining to them what it was like being in Dubrovnik in 1991. He said the citizens of Dubrovnik just never believed that anyone would attack their city. They all thought as they lived in a UNESCO World heritage site that the international community would intervene, they were wrong. The Dubrovniks’ were unarmed and the Yugoslavian Army who were trying to keep Croatia from breaking away bombarded the city from the safety of their ships off shore. The Human said that at least the walls built to defend against cannon balls, bows and arrows still held and did their job… mostly. He said to this day the city feels a little bitter no one came to their aid. It was seven months of bombardment they had to endure before the Croatian Army finally broke the siege.  Years later the Yugoslavian General who led the attack was jailed for seven years by an international court on War Crimes.

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All the pictures of Dubrovnik that I have shown here from 1991 were from the Croatian Memorial Museum which is also housed in Fort Imperial on top of the hill. Well worth a visit if you are visiting Dubrovnik to get a Dubrovnik citizens perspective on what happened.

 

So let’s end on a more tranquil note shall we? A beautiful city deserving of its World Heritage status in this humble Border Collies (and me Humans too) opinion.

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An Adriatic Sunset
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A Peaceful Boat Harbour

 

In my next instalment we visit Bosnia and in particular Mostar, once again a little uncomfortable as the influence of the breakup of Yugoslavia rears its ugly head once again.

R

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A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 4: Lapad Bay, Dubrovnik

The previous instalment: Storms and Bubbles in Dubrovnik can be found here

Now that the sunny weather has returned. Here is my account of one Border Collies attempt to swim to Italy… Or at least have fun trying!

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Lapad Bay

So this is a picture of Lapad Bay, Dubrovnik. Out in the distance beyond those rocks is Italy and the sea is the Northern Mediterranean also known as the Adriatic Sea. Here is a Google Map to put it in perspective for you.

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Me, contemplating how far Italy is

Anyway first off for a dip in the Adriatic with me Humans

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Now this is what I’m talking about! Crystal clear waters, just me and me Humans, life is good.

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Now might be time for me break for Italy, can’t be far from here…

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Yep, Princess Human is distracted, I’ll make me break for it!

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Bugger. Caught!

Now I’m banished to the boat while Princess and Curly have all the fun…

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Actually this is not so bad, hey I’m captain of the boat!

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Now after all that nautical stuff and having failed on me attempt to swim to Italy its time for refreshments eh?

 

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Well that’s obviously left out for me then…
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And the beers mine Grumpy, keep ya mits off!

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And a lovely sunset over Lapad Bay to finish things off.

In my next instalment we go exploring Dubrovnik Old Town

R

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A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 3: Storms and Bubbles in Dubrovnik

The previous instalment in our grand adventure can be found here.

On account of a rather large storm hitting Dubrovnik our first adventure was one more up my alley than my poor Humans.

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Catching rain drops, now I can’t emphasize enough just how much fun this is, and best of all ya get to photo-bomb ya Humans trying to take nice scenic photos of Dubrovnik… Anyway me Humans were just lazing around in the villa’s nice spa, boring…

I tried to hop in to the spa a few times but my Human were to vigilant to that. I don’t know what their problem was, they know I love swimming…

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Me  photo bombing Curly-Human testing her new snorkel – Well she can’t go to the beach in the storm!
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Last few rain drops, need an alternative…

And now that the sun has finally come out, stealing me rain drop fun.

Me Humans have kindly blown a few bubbles for me, even better than rain drop catching I reckon.

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Hey, more bubbles in here guys!

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In my next instalment we at last get out and explore Lapad Bay and I get to swim in the Adriatic!

R

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A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 2: Zagreb to Dubrovnik

Previously: View Hofheim to Zagreb Here

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After an early morning start we hit the road for our 8 hour drive from Zagreb to Dubrovnik. The scenery is fantastic, we all would like to spend more time but Dubrovnik calls. My Humans resolve to come back to this part of inland Croatia. One of the places we missed out on seeing on this trip was the fabulous Plitvice Lakes National Park which is a wonderful national park, one of the best in Europe, missed in part due to our time constraints and something to do with having a dog with us… what? I don’t see the problem… What do they think I’m going to do, eat a brown bear? I suspect it would be the other way around!

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Its a long and winding road… as me Humans are fond of saying.

And as the day wears on, nature takes its course and I’m busting for a pee

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Help, I’m stuck!

Bloody hell these safety straps and all are a bit over the top, me Humans… Get me outta here so I can go checkout some greenery.

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And the never ending journey continues until its, what? only lunch time… Anyway it’s a longer stop to stretch the legs and have a look around. This time we have stopped just off the E65 motorway at a little town called Skradin.

 

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Himm… what’s down there then? Worth a quick squizz…

A nearby Christian Religious Shrine, the Gospa od Puta. It reminds my Humans of the religious difficulties in this region including some rather big recent wars when Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990’s and Croatia become independent. Yes Croatia is a very young country.

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Dubrovnik, you’re not so far…

Back on the road again and finally we see Dubrovnik on the road signs, was beginning to think it didn’t exist…

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Klek. In the far background the cityscape is the little (and only) part of Bosnia that has a coastline.

Finally we hit the Adriatic coast at the little Croatian town of Klek. This is where it gets a bit weird because although we are travelling in Croatia and heading south towards Dubrovnik one of Croatia’s biggest cities, we have to hop briefly into another country! When I mean briefly I mean about 8 km, that is it! Even weirder that country is Bosnia Herzegovina and it is not in the EU. That means border controls and passports and all sorts of faffing about. Well as the resident Border Collie I was pretty much ready for this of course…

I will blog more on Bosnia Herzegovina a little later when we went to visit the old city of Mostar as a day trip from Dubrovnik. What really disappointed me now was the fact I was all geared up to bark at the Border Officers and put them in their place  but as we approached there seemed to be no body interested in people with Aussie passports or even a famous dog with a UK Pet Passport. We passed the kiosk window and the Border guy was too busy reading his newspaper to even look up at us, just waved us through with a flick of his wrist. Now these guys need proper Border Collie border management training I reckon. Perhaps they need to employ the services of The Cop?

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The Croatian and European Union Border

Within a few minutes we were through Bosnia and at the Croatian Border, this time I guess because the EU insists on some form of Border Protection, our passports were inspected and we were waved on back into Croatia.

After all this international travel me and me Humans were a tad hungry and with still an hour to go before we would arrive in Dubrovnik a vote was taken that we should stop for dinner. Me and me Humans except Grumpy-Human voted for stopping. Now it has to be said that Grumpy had been doing most of the driving and he lovers driving  so if he didn’t want to stop  we could well end up not just in Dubrovnik but across the next border and on in to Montenegro and beyond! My solution, a bit of judicious barking to make it known… a stop for food would be good and a pee in the car probably not very hygienic, not to mention the smell eh!

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And we stopped in a lovely town not far from Dubrovnik, Slano. It’s beautiful and the food brilliant – or so me Humans said after scoffing down mountains of local fish.

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Me, I was stuck with me usual crappy German dog food bought along especially for me… how thoughtful of my dear Humans…

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You may well laugh Curly but I’m on holiday and need real food, not German dog biscuits.
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I hope you’re going to fill me bowl with fresh seafood.

Finally we rolled into Dubrovnik, more specifically Lapad Bay where we had rented an old villa for two weeks.

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Ahhhh finally I can relax, I’m even aloud in the villa which was something I worried about seeing as Croatia is not particularly dog friendly.

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Having said that the villa owners couldn’t have been more helpful to me although I did spot a certain Putty Tat which must belong to them, himmm…

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Next time I get back to blogging about this adventure I’ll fill you in on Storms and Bubbles in Dubrovnik!

R

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A Border Collie’s European Summer Adventure, Part 1

Now as I put paw to keyboard, it’s a rainy 16C here in so called sunny Perth, Western Australia. Second coldest summer day on record apparently!  So without a summer adventure to tell you about so far this year and feeling like I’m back in Europe I am reminded of one adventure a couple of years ago. It all started…

It was a hot Central European late July summer when we packed up the car at our home in Hofheim, Germany and headed for Croatia.

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Had I realised that it would be a 3000 km (1800 miles) round trip I might have said to me Humans – “.

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Nah, I’m good, you guys have a great trip!

To this day I never quite know if we have a 10 hour journey ahead of us or a trip to the dog park when I get in the car.

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Have me passport… Check! We are going to be crossing many international borders.

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The first leg of our trip, a 14 hour journey to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia started out with me being bundled into the car at some ungodly hour, way too early in the morning to be civilised.

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Cripes guys, its a little crowded. I tell ya wot, I’ll stay behind so ya have more room…
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Grumble… grumble…

Our journey wound its way through south eastern Germany to the Austrian border at a little village called Etzelshofen where the German A3 autobahn meets the Austrian A8 motorway. Since we were on a mission to get to Zagreb before night-fall we hardly stopped at all.

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I glimpsed some wonderful scenery out the window so it was rather sad that we didn’t stop more often.

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Sprinting through a small section of Slovenia we finally crawled into Zagreb in the late afternoon. After 14 bloody hours, I can tell you I was in need of a wee and a few refreshments…

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I could have killed for a beer me self… Actually you can get dog beer in Germany, check this out:

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Just as I was starting to relax at a local restaurant near our hotel and could smell the lovely Croatian BBQ’s being prepared I see the waiter spot me handsome self-curled up next to me Humans and I see his lip curl up with a disdainful look…

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Ohh oh… I sneak back under the table hoping he will forget me. But no. He starts telling my Humans that dogs are not allowed in his restaurant, something about the “Great dog debacle of 2005” whatever that was, it wasn’t me mate, honest!

After some slick negotiations with me Humans and due to the fact he didn’t want to lose the business of 4  hungry Humans and a BC we move down to a room in the basement  where I am allowed… grudgingly to remain hidden under the table.

A huge plate if lamb and other local meats arrives. Boy! Me Humans better let me have some that or there will be trouble!

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And as usual I do me rounds of me gullible humans who each sneak a tasty morsel under the table to me thinking no one else has, heh heh…

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It turns out Croatia is not as dog friendly as Germany but at least I’m aloud to stay at the hotel as I know me Humans checked and booked in advance. Lucky or I might have been sleeping in the bloody car, I had had just about enough of the car on that trip!

In the next instalment I will fill you in on our trip from Zagreb down the western part of Croatia bordering the Adriatic Sea on our way to Dubrovnik.