Rovinj, Croatia

Croatia, and later you’ll see Slovenia, are major destinations for RVers.  We passed so many on the highways heading to the coast.  These RVers come from all over Europe.  While we were in Slovenia, we saw a Bigfoot slide-in camper on a RAM 3500 — no doubt, they were Canadians.  We couldn’t see the license plate.

On the way to Rovinj, we stopped in at a small town on the Adriatic called Senj for a break.  That was our first glimpse of the sea.

   

Between Senj and the coast, there were many seaside RV parks:

   

The next time we come to Croatia (and we will come again), we will travel in an RV.

We stayed on Katarina island in Rovinj.  We took a water taxi over to the island.  It ran once per hour, so it was easy to come and go to the mainland.  Our resort was lovely!  Every room had a sea view and a balcony.  Our room also overlooked the bird pool — yes, it was a pool for the seagulls!  There were also pools for humans, but we chose to swim in the Adriatic instead.

   
  

Looking down from a balcony toward the seagull pool. 

The town of Rovinj on the mainland was like Venice, without the crowds and odours.  We loved it!  The cobblestones were very smooth and polished from years of use, so walking was tricky downhill.

 Rovinj (mainland, old town)  
            

My favourite picture:       

WWII “pill box” bunker:

  

Flat areas cut into the rock and flagstone added for sunbathing:    

           

It’s amazing that a civil war broke out in this country in my lifetime.  There is such a air of peace and tranquility, yet some old animosities still flare up.  As we drove through small towns between Plitvice and the coast, many buildings were pock-marked from bullets.  Some buildings were so badly damaged that they’ve been left to rot.  Also, the homeowners refused to return to them out of fear.  

Back in 1919, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia joined to form Yugoslavia, but this early union didn’t work because Serbia was the majority.  In the 1930s the Serbian king was killed by a Croat.

After WWII, Tito gave them peace and prosperity.  He is still greatly regarded in this part of the world.  The Yugoslavians had a greater standard of living compared to their neighbours.  They could also travel abroad.  Tito gave them a new identity, so that the old divisions weren’t ruling them.  He got rid of religion and nationalism, so they stopped fighting.  They became Yugoslavs, and not Croatians, Serbians, or Slovenes.  He also gave autonomy to certain groups within the country, so there was a good balance of power.  

When Tito died in 1980, it all started to fall apart.  In 1991, Croatia and Slovenia announced independence.  However, Serbia wouldn’t let them go.  Slovenia left easily without much bloodshed.  It wasn’t so easy in Croatia because 1/8 of the population was Serbian, so the army helped the Serbs fight the Croats.  What an ugly war.

Today, Croatia is one of the poorer nations in Europe.  Of all the ones we visited, it is poorest.  The people are very friendly despite their history.

  

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Visiting Plitvice NP was a bucket list item for me.  It was established in 1949 and later became a UNESCO world heritage site.  We took a trolley to the top of park and then walked down very unnerving boardwalks.  The high up section was delightful, but as we got lower, the crowds became thicker. 

   
                                  As we got close to the largest waterfall, the crowds were like being at the Sistine Chapel — a place I hope never to visit again.  You see most people take a bus to the lower entrance and just walk a short distance to the biggest waterfall.  Then they clog the area while doing bizarre poses or selfies.  I’m starting to prefer selfies to these fake poses!  Today, people think they are supermodels or they are trying to get the perfect (ie fake) Instagram photo.  Are you really sleeping on a rock by a waterfall?  Does anyone believe this?  OK, rant over.  

   
   Because of the crowds, the government is considering reducing the number of people entering the park.  That would be a great idea.

This is a must-see sight.  Brave the crowds and go.  You can also photobomb the girl pretending to be asleep on a rock!  We did.

Budapest

Although this is a very old city, most of the buildings are only from the late 1800s — completed around 1896, because that was the city’s big 1000-year celebration (The first king was King Steven who started his reign in 896 AD).  The city is well laid-out and easy to navigate.  The subway system is excellent.  The first line was made for the 1896 celebration, and it still operates with the original cars.  Why mess with something that works? Since then, new lines have been added.

One of the stations on the original line:

  
Budapest is divide by the Danube.  We stayed on the Pest side.  It is where most people live, and it’s also where all the action is.  The Buda side is hilly, where the big castle is, and where richer people live.  I could be wrong about them being richer, but these people seemed to live in row houses rather than apartments, and there was car parking.  Most of my picture are of the Pest side. 

 Recreational complex:  
Smaller castle on the Pest side:

         

Check out the way gelato is served at this stand:

   
 

Of course, like all European cities, Budapest is dog-friendly.  Amazingly, you don’t see any poop anywhere.  They use paper bags to pick it up, and there are bags and trash cans everywhere to make it easy.  I’m not sure how clean your hands would be after using the little paper bags. 

   
In our hotel, we found this sign to hang for the cleaners.  So, instead of the usual: DO NOT DISTURB, or PLEASE MAKE UP ROOM, you also get a sign like this:

 

People set up areas so that we never forget the horrors of WWII:  

 

Many of these 1896 buildings are original and need some attention.  Here is a picture of two identical buildings.  The one on the right has been refurbished, but the one on the left is in disrepair.  Sometimes foreigners buy these buildings and then just let them sit, so they are getting worse.  At least repair the windows!  The architecture is ornate.

  

Main market (too crowded for me):

   
Opera house:

 Evening Danube cruise

  
    

National Parliament:   

Buda Castle:

Funicular to the castle complex:   
      

View of Pest from Buda castle:  

This is a fountain in the castle complex.  It is a scene about hunting, but I was so in love with the faithful dogs in each vignette in the fountain:    

This dog was my favourite. Look at how faithful she looks!  Many people rubbed her paw.   

I loved seeing Viszlas and Komondors on the streets of Budapest!  As I said earlier, they love their dogs here.

 This church is located on the Buda side.  The tile roof is unique to this area.  Look at the Raven at the top.  
    

View of the parliament from the Buda side:   

As I said, Buda is the hilly side.  Do you see the statue at the top of this hill?  Well, we climbed all the way up to it!  Exhausting in 90+ degree heat!

   
  

Waterfall at the base of the big hill: 

I really enjoyed my stay in Budapest.  The coffee houses and restaurants were top-notch.  The streets were easy to navigate, the Danube was beautiful, and the people are pretty laid-back. It’s no wonder that the Danube was full of river cruise ships.