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Monday, April 15, 2019

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dear Family and Friends,

After our Gate 1 tour ended, Chuck and I went to Ljubljana, Slovenia for a couple of extra days.  We rented an apartment within easy walking distance to the center of town.

Ljubljana is the largest city and the capital of Slovenia.  It is a university town so it is very lively with young people.  Lots of outdoor cafes lining the river that runs through the middle of the city.

Of course when we were there it was off season for tourists.  Many trees were yet to leaf and it was sometimes a mite windy and cold.  But we can definitely say one thing, we never got too hot and it was never too crowded.

Here are some views of Ljubljana.  (To pronounce this city just substitute an i for j)

The Ljubljana river that runs through the center of town.  

Below is the Vurnik House, a very unique building that was built in 1922, and was designed by an architect who wanted to create a distinctive Slovenian style. Although the style did not catch on, this colorful building is still maintained. 

This is the Preresen Monument located in the main plaza.  It is where most tour groups meet up at the end of their free time.    It honors France Preseren, a beloved Slovene national poet.

Below is the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.  It is located in right on the central plaza, along with the statue Preresen.  Also the central plaza is located right beside the river.  There are three walking bridges that connect this plaza with the older part of the city.

All of the central tourist area is pedestrian only.  

The man below got a lot of attention while he had his fancy dressed ostrich out for a stroll.

This is the top of the Ljubljana Cathedral.  

And here is the interior.  A real awesome church.

And like so many tourists spots these days, there were love locks on the bridge.

Below is a dragon (one of four) that adorn a bridge of the city.  The dragon is a symbol of the city.

We really enjoyed the market area.

We had a real nice couple of days there.  We even found time to visit a casino, and unlike in the U.S., we even came away with a little money.

Our trip getting home was a easy as going.  We flew from Ljubljana to Amsterdam in the afternoon.  Here is a photo of Amsterdam below and the setting sun on the horizon as we were landing.

We spent the night in Amsterdam and had a humane departure time on KLM for Quito at 10:00 am the next morning.

Below is a picture I made out the window as we were leaving the UK behind and heading to Ecuador over the Atlantic.

We flew for about 12 or more hours and it stayed daylight the whole trip.  Here is a picture of the clouds below and the beautiful open blue sky above them.  This was the scene for most of the flight.

My favorite photo though, is the one I made as our airplane was banking to land in Quito, Ecuador.  What a beautiful place we live in and I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz....yes, there is no place like home.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

First, Zagreb, Croatia and then on to Slovenia

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last city in Croatia was Zagreb, the capital and largest city.  We spent a couple of hours there with a tour of the old town.  

This church, located in the center of old town, is probably one of the most photographed sites in Zagreb.  St. Mark's Church has a colorful tiled roof.  The tiles were laid on the church roof in 1880 and are in the design of the coat of arms for Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia.

Below is Chuck in his Gate 1 tourist gear.  With Gate 1 each traveler wears a receiver around their neck and an ear piece for listening to the tour guide.  This works out very well because you can adjust the volume to your needs.  Also you can walk around and take in the site while listening to the commentary.

A typical street in the old town.  

Chuck is in the market area checking out the plants they had for sale.

We walked down to the newer part of the city. 

On the way down, we saw this beautifully painted egg.  The size of it was what caught my eye.  

After a little bit of free time, it was time to hop back on the tour bus.  We said goodbye to Zagreb and the country of Croatia.  Our new destination was the beautiful country of Slovenia.

We passed many fishing villages.

Viewing the mountains ahead of us was fantastic.  These mountains are called the Julian Alps.  They separate Slovenia and Austria.

Our last stop on this tour was at a hotel on Lake Bled.  I enjoyed walking along the lake and making photos across from me.

That evening we went to an old restaurant for wine tasting and dinner.  We were entertained by folks in traditional dress with dancing and music.  

This was the end of our Gate 1 tour.  We said our goodbyes to all our new travel friends.

As they made their way to the airport, Chuck and I took a bus to the nearby city of Ljubljana to spend a few days before heading back to Ecuador.

The next post will be photos of Ljubljana and getting back home.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Split, Croatia

Dear Family and Friends,

We went from Dubrovnik to Split, the second largest city in Croatia.  Our time there was limited to a walking tour of the old town.

Before I share pictures of our walking tour, I must say that I feel somewhat out of sync with so many who are fans of Game of Thrones.  It turned out that the old town of Split is also a place where it is filmed.

In both Dubrovnik and Split, there were whole shops dedicated to memorabilia and souvenirs of that show.  

I found it fascinating that it was so popular and I was completely out of the loop.  This is a character just inside one of the shops.  

Here is an advertisement encouraging people to come sit on an iron throne and have their picture taken. 

Whoa!!  There it iron throne.   

Okay, enough of that.

The Old Town of Split is a historic inner city that has a strong Roman influence, built about the 4th century AD.  Most of the town is inside the Palace of Diocletian.  It was Built for Emperor Diocletian.  Below is the courtyard of the main entrance.

Below is a statue of bishop Gregory of Nin.  He looks more like a character from Harry Potter to me.

People still live in this old town.  I think it would be fun to live there.  

Look at the beautiful view you would have as you left the city.  Yep, right on the waterfront.

These are the restaurants and coffee shops that line the beautiful walkway along the sea front.  

Next post is about Zagreb, Croatia's largest city.  


Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dear Family and Friends,

After leaving Montenegro, we crossed the boarder into Croatia.  Our next stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia.  I was so happy that I could visit it because when we were here a few months ago on our cruise, I was ill and quarantined on the ship.

As we drove into the city, the bus driver stopped so that we could take photos of the old city from above.

Just like in Kotor, you enter the city through a tunnel in the fortified walls.

As soon as you enter you are in a plaza with Onofrio's fountain.  A huge fountain built in 1438.  It is fed by a natural underground spring. Our tour guide encouraged us to drink from the fountain because the water is very safe.  I declined, but many people did and they didn't get sick.  

There are pluses and minuses about traveling during the off season.  One of the main pluses is that the sites you visit are not at all crowded.  Chuck said that when he was here before there were crowds of people.

This is a view down the main walk to the bell tower.

A closer view of the bell tower.

Just to the right of the bell tower is the church of St. Blaise.  This church is very popular for weddings in Dubrovnik.

 Looking down this street, we can see the dome of the Dubrovnik cathedral.

The stairs are the Jesuit stairs.  If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones, you may recognize them as the walk of shame.  Dubrovnik is a filming location for this series.

Inside a monastery, which is now a museum.

I took a picture of this early drawing of the city.

I loved their sense of humor.  Don't you love this hand rail?

From the top of the wall you can see the tiled roof tops.  Most of them are fairly new because this city was under siege by the Yugoslav Peoples Army during the early 90's and most of the original roofs suffered mortar damage.  They have now been replaced.

The small city harbor from above.

Like Kotor, Dubrovnik has cats.  They are probably loved for the same reason...keeping away the mice.  However, the cat is the picture below is eyeing something else.


This lady has not even opened her bird feed sack and look at them flocking.  They must know her.