Split part one

We ended up being in Split for two days and then at the end of our tour, we spent one more night there before our long airplane trip home.

Lets start in the dungeons of Diocletian’s Palace. He was one of the late Roman Emperors, and I guess he was born in Dalmatia and so built his palace here. We’re talking about 2000 years ago. Our tour took us down to the basement. Funny story, even in his days, trash was thrown through holes in the floor into the dungeons, so imagine 2000 years of that…

All that compacted garbage is what held the foundations together, and a whole city was built up on top, many different periods of course. At some point, in the 20th c. they cleaned out the garbage and fortified these foundations, although to be honest, the Romans knew how to build, as we saw earlier in Pula.

Once again, the Roman arch with the keystone. Yes, this is a doorway, but the arch as small as it is, is here for structural support, not because it is needed to look good.

I love the textures, the larger stones at the base of the walls, the smaller stones and bricks as we move up. A well as the textures seen through the arch. Btw, Game of Thrones, of which I only saw the first season, was filmed in Croatia, most of it in Dubrovnik, but some of the dungeon scenes, whatever they were – were filmed down here.

I am looking up at a domed ceiling, great architects with their ability to use bricks and concrete to build this. Yes, the Romans were the first to perfect the concrete so it is stable and lasts for millennia.

There was a whole palace above the foundations, much of it has been rebuilt over the years by other civilizations, and yet, Roman mosaics remain, they were probably covered for years and then dug up.

Diocletian was given, or maybe just took some Sphinx from Egypt, carved from that super hard strong black stone. The other one here lost his head, because some latter on probably thought it was being worshiped as an idol.

People still live here in the old city. Some have renovated their houses, but whoever lives in this house didn’t, at least not on the outside. I know from experience how hard it is to live in old cities. My parents lived in the old city of Jerusalem for years – they didn’t last. The echoing stone, the crowds of tourists, the issue of very old buildings and their problems. So kudos to those who can stay here. Many of the homes are now hotels or museums.

Going to Textures. and clearly we are looking at different periods. The columns might be Roman, I don’t think what is around them is.

More of the mishmash of styles, I think the arch might have been here first and later the lintel was added, but I may be wrong.

More columns and arches.

Me again, just capturing texture as well as a plant growing among the stones.

More plants and an interesting window. I’m going to say that the outer frame is old and the inner one is much newer. I like the look.

One of the many crowded alleyways. Oh, and we had a good pizza here and had a nice chat with a couple who were trying to escape grey York, only to find themselves in grey Split, after a few days the sun did come out.


Trogir and the blight of grafitti

Before arriving in Split, we stopped in the cute town of Trogir. Later on our trip we would stop at other cute Islands and see other walled cities, but on the coast of Dalmatia, this was a first. It used to be an island, but that narrow waterway was filled in years ago.

Clock towers, and now you know what time I was here, as seen by this clock.

City walls will have towers, one one the flag of the city of Trogir, Grad means city and on the other, the flag of Croatia.

didn’t go into this church, but was able to snap a picture of the lion, I would love to know what he is stomping on, I can’t tell, looks like some kind of dragon. Btw, I saw more of these lions and they reminded me very much of the Chinese Foo dogs – how cultures are similar!

Doorways, the first to the city, the second to a church. I’m very happy that I got people in both images, for scale and interest.

Windows, in this case, a real gothic influence.

Similar but somewhat simplified.

How about this guy, up in the window Advertising ice cream – rather gelato. Yes, plenty of gelato was eaten, to my mind it was a little too sweet – which is a good thing, if my taste buds don’t like sugar overload.

An alleyway, an image I will enjoy over and over. Because they are small, cramped old and cute.

Ancient graffiti, it might be of the Venetians arriving. I don’t remember. So if ancient graffiti tells a story, is modern graffiti good? No, no it’s not, unfortunately here in Los Angeles, after years and year of very good graffiti control – it is back with a vengeance – of course that means breakdown of law and order, and it’s disgusting, so I will now share just a tiny bit of the graffiti I saw in Croatia and I hate it.

Well this looks nice, I hear you say, what is it about? I asked at our hotel – oh that is the local soccer team, Hayduk Split – they are beloved here. After that I saw a ton of graffiti celebrating this team. Some very good, as in artistic but that doesn’t make me like it any more.

I briefly saw, from the bus window the word Ustase, which was the name of the Croatian Facists from the 1930- through the end of WWII, the guys that killed off the Jews before the Nazis arrived. I also briefly saw an image of the Stars and Bars – the Flag of the American south – that couldn’t have been positive.

Most of it looked like this,

Or this. In Zagreb, it was all over the ground floor of many buildings. I asked my son, who now goes to Munich for work at least once a year – nope not in the areas he is in. although I have to say, I love watching House Hunters International – and often I see that they can’t crop it out of the pictures throughout Europe. It’s a blight and not a good one.


Plitvicka Lakes and waterfalls

A wonderful national park in Croatia, complete with lakes and waterfalls. some people walk all around the lakes, others like us, hop on an electric boat to cross the lakes and see some waterfalls on the way. At the bottom lake there is walking involved.

I can’t get over how green things are here! This of course does have to do with all the rain, also it’s spring, so there is that fresh green growth.

BLUE SKIES! how wonderful is the reflection of blue on the lake.

Even from afar the waterfalls are very impressive.

As are the reflections of the limestone in the water.

If there ever was a time for video, here it is. This is the final and largest waterfall, Jasmina said she had never seen this much water here, so yay to the rain!

Most of the walkway was a boardwalk, and because the rain had just stopped, at certain points it was flooded. We did have a mishap. One guy on our tour was using his iPad as a camera, and he had put it down by the bathrooms. Our local guide immediate called back to a friend – it was found and delivered back to the group. Tour guides in Croatia really help one another out. There was also a forgotten carry on and passports in a hotel safe – all returned safely.

The small waterfalls were lovely

quite a backdrop

A group photo with most of us.



What an adorable seaside town. It has everything you want in an old town on the Adriatic.

A fisherman fishing in bright blue waters with a wonderful old city climbing up the hill. If you look closely you can see that there was a wall to this city and the buildings are built right into and on top of it.

You get a better look of that. As well at the church with its’ campanile on top of the hill.

Yes, it was still a little cold, but the sun is shining.

This used to be two cities, one was an island, now joined as one. Clearly under the rule of Venice. The winged lion is the giveaway, as for the Turkish guy, I forget what the guide said, but the Turks were also very present here.

We climbed up to the church and looked down at the ocean below.

Inside we have St George slaying the dragon, a lovely painted ceiling and a wonderful lamp. There was also a sarcophagus with the body of St. Euphemia that washed up years ago. So she is the saint of the city. Sort of reminds of that Los Angeles has a St. Vibiana who brought years ago from Europe. so I get it, everyone wants their own saint – even if the story doesn’t make sense – how a stone sarcophagus floated from Turkey up the Adriatic…

We have the gorgeous town with its’ narrow cobblestone walkways.

People with dogs, adorable shops.

Laundry hanging out to dry, with flowers to make it all just look so picturesque.

More arrested decay with pigeon, find the pigeon!

There is a second bay with these colorful houses!

And cafes and restaurants, we ate in one of course.

Sailboats in the harbor…

And a frame-worthy picture of one of the alleyways.

We did spend time in other coastal towns and islands – this one topped them all.


On to the coast – Pula

After leaving Ljublianja we stopped at a massive cave, it is called the Postoyna Cave and it was super impressive. I have no photos, because I have taken and shared plenty of photos from other caves around the world, so take my word for it, and on to the coast. We spent two nights in Opatia, which was nice, but it rained, a lot, so no photos from there either. Lucky for us, our day trip was sunny, so lets go to Pula.

All bathrooms are pay bathrooms. This is at a gas station, so if you use the bathroom, you do get credit to buy something in the store. If you can walk through this barrier, you don’t have to pay.

Is this what we went to see? A defunct industrial port? No, not at all.

We went to see the incredible Roman Amphitheater. It is not as large as the Forum in Rome, but unlike others I have visited, like in Israel or Spain, this one has all it’s walls basically intact.

The sun came out as soon as we arrived. How nice. Of course to the right of the Roman structure we have a much more modern church.

It took a few minutes for the rain to stop, we weren’t the only group standing out in the rain.

The walls remain standing, but the seats were rebuilt. How do I know? because look at the huge stones used for the walls, and the small ones used for the seats. Of course during the two millennia many stones were removed for other building projects in the city, so when it came time to reconstruct the seats – all they could use were much smaller stones. And yes, these days they do have wonderful live performances here.

Roman performances were like football today, but much much bloodier. It was gladiators against animals and sometimes prisoners. No, it was rare to a gladiator to be killed – they were superstars. I’m sure it happened, and I’m sure that the prisoners were often killed, but the crowds had their favorites and didn’t want them dead each time they went to see the spectacle.

It truly is impressive seeing these old walls.

One of the main reasons why this is still standing is the famous arch. An arch, if well built is an incredible strong structural element. In the case of the Romans – it’s the Roman key, that center stone in the arch that balanced the weight on both sides and allows for a massive contraction above it as well. In Split we saw the remains of the Aqueduct – that too is built completely from arches.

The basement, that used to hold the pens for the animals and prisoners is now a museum. I’m sure finding these clay jars is like finding graffiti these days. I’m wondering if many of these are actually Greek. One problem I have with studying history is that we learn that the Romans replaced the Greeks. What we don’t learn is the two cultures actually lived side by side for many years.

Many of those Amphora held olive oil, so here we see a recreation of an olive press. The stones are original, the metal is not, it would have been made of wood.

Back out on the street, a wonderful building from the Hapsburg period, and then on to the cutest seaside town, Rovinj.


Time for flowers

A break from history and beautiful landscapes, lets look closely at the many spring flowers that were blooming because of all that rain!

These were for sale at one of the many open air markets. I’m hoping that plenty of people will be planting them in their gardens.

Or like this, on balconies and window sills.

Talk about not letting much sunshine in!

Smart people, plant some herbs.

How about above the window. This was up north in the town of Rovinj, so they probably get some rain year round, otherwise, I don’t know how they water these. I also like the horse shoe- good luck

This apartment building must have a requirement that everyone have plants on the balcony. How lovely is this!

miniature lemons and olive trees at the market.

There were flowering trees on the streets of the cities.

Scotch Broom which is apparently where Split gets its’ name from.

Plenty of Sabras – the Prickly pear that originates in Mexico. this one is very unusual – I’m used to seeing the flower and the fruit along the sides of the paddles, but here they are growing on the face. Looks like it’s about to bloom, will be very pretty.

One of these is a daisy, not sure about the other, but it is beautiful

Wild poppies, or what I think of as Calanit – which grows in the spring in Israel as well- expect that means March, not May. These were all over some of the hillsides.

Pink pincushions and a tiny little flower. I had to put my expensive lens to work on the small details.

Amarylis and roses, saw a lot of these. and now, back to our regular program of sites and scenes.


Ljublianja mostly architecture

This building is stunning. I wonder how often they have to refresh the paint.

Detail, because. I’ve tried doing some basic research, like why these buildings are painted, not finding much and not in the mood to dig deeper, so just enjoy

It is in a row of lovely Art Nuveaux buildings. Although, on the other side there is a modern building – such is life – there was a time and place for this level of decoration. Btw, in my neighborhood someone decorated an apartment building with some Art Deco elements – the purists scoff! Faux Deco! So you can’t win, you can’t save all the old and if you try to create some beauty you get ridiculed. No wonder most modern buildings are -meh.

On the main square. btw, cars aren’t allowed here, but early in the morning, the delivery trucks come in mass – two hours later and the square is packed with people. All three buildings are nice, of course my favorite is on the left.

Because of the color of course, I need to refer back to these when I quilt or stitch.

Ahh, those details! Below the second window looks like there is a place for flags, none were flying when I was there.

The roofline, true to Art Nuveaux or Beaux Arts as well call it in the US, large overhanging roof.

Franciscan Church, right on the square, the images are painted, not mosaic.

Yup, even ice old buildings get graffiti, grrrr.

The Old fashioned department store.

With the glass canopy over the entrance.

Look at the staircase inside.

Nobody builds or decorates like this anymore. One thing not to do, is look at the prices. I saw shoes for 400 Euro… designer athletic shoes… at that point I stopped looking at the merchandise. No, I had no intention of buying anything, but I was getting heartburn just from the price.

A river runs through town.

What a nice way to get around.

I do not like graffiti, I know, this in itself is a form of graffiti, and yet, here I soften. It is small, unobtrusive, and as you will see later, graffiti has been with us forever. If these little mosaics survive, that is ok by me. also, they are mosaics.


Mostly Ljubljana, with a little more of the Lake Bled region

We drove through the countryside to another gorgeous lake. The countryside and the villages are so picturesque!

It was about crossing this bridge to see the old church, might be the oldest in Slovenia – my information is sketchy.

How they brace an old bridge. Cars and buses drive on here, so it needed some shoring up. I wonder if I’m the only one who noticed this. I see these kind of things.

This is an original fresco outside the church, although one side does look like it’s been refurbished.

The inside is so colorful. I’m only sharing one picture.

We went to a cute old town for a traditional dinner with local song and dance. this place is known for making gingerbread hearts which are a big thing. They aren’t to be eaten, they are shared with loved ones, many are the size of a Christmas tree ornament, this bakery restaurant has been making them for hundreds of years.

Me eating dinner, first course was mushroom soup in bread – yummy. As for Creation- Slovanian food – it was ok, a little monotonous, when I got home I made roasted chicken, something they don’t serve there – it was sooo Good.

Onto Ljublianja, the capitol. Another grey day. This is a lovely little city, with amazing architecture. But now I will share other than that.

A lot of kids on a field trip. I think this guy is some important poet, please do pay attention to the pigeon on his head.

How cool is this sign!!

Just look at these tomatoes. I bought strawberries instead, easier to eat and yes, they were red all the way through as well.

I guess you can weigh your own purchases to make sure you weren’t cheated.

I notice a lot of owls here, I didn’t buy one of these, I bought a small ceramic one made in a workshop for people with special needs.

The symbol of Slovenia is a dragon. Anne, in our group bought on because she was born in year of the dragon. I told her that I am in the year of the pig – so no thanks, I won’t be buying pigs.

Next post, all about the gorgeous Art Nuveaux architecture.


Lake Bled, Slovenia

Oh my, is Slovenia gorgeous. It is a tiny country mostly in the Julian Alps. I just saw a small part – but amazing.

First stop, Lake Bled. Its’ one of those places that is on all the lists of amazing things to see. It really is something, so here is the church on the Island in the middle of the lake.

One has to be rowed over on special boats, no motor boats allowed here.

Arriving at the Island, and yes, the water is that aqua green, it has to do with the limestone, which is what all of this area is made of.

Climbing the stairs.

The Church tower, I know, the image is somewhat fuzzy, I could blame jet lag, or I could simply blame my own camera skills.

I climbed the Campanile, the Bell tower, I of course was interested in the weights and counter weights.

Some people rang the bells and asked for a wish. some asked for no rain, that wish wasn’t granted, but I will say that most of the days, when we had an activity the rain held off, not always.

The interior clock that tells the time for the bells to ring.

View from the Island looking towards the castle.

Back on shore, looking at that huge rock with its’ castle.

Me in the foreground, I am so grateful to have brought this warm jacket, it got much more use than all of my short sleeve shirts put together.

The castle, one thing I really love is the painted decorations on the buildings.

Just look at the shutters, even they are painted.

A peacock weather vane.

and the original medieval peacock that inspired it. The inside of the castle is a museum with many locally found objects. Among them a sword that a colleague of Yasminas’ found in the lake – this was in the days when she was a working archeologist. Didn’t make much money – which is why she is now a fabulous tour guide.

At the castle, looking down at our hotel in the background, yes, that big black building was where we stayed.


Zagreb, part II

Look down, Manhole covers can be very interesting. I had noticed how shiny this was and has the city Emblem. What I didn’t notice until a close look at the picture was the Jewish Star and the Muslim moon (the castle is probably a church, a lot of crosses). Hmm, should I be impressed?

No, not really, because the only above street parking lot in the city was the site of the old synagogue. there is a new Jewish community center and our guide said they’d build a new synagogue here – for what a community of 1000? Most of whom are probably secular- so they enjoy a community center but don’t really have a need for a synagogue.

I can’t read the Croatian, but I can read the Hebrew, it says the old synagogue was built in 1867 and destroyed by the Fascists in 1941. So I googled, and sure enough, most of the work of killing the Jews was done before the Nazis arrived. The Ustase were the Croatian Fascist party – aligned with Mussolini, but Italian Jews weren’t eliminated until the Nazis got involved – no so in Croatia. The problem for me in Europe is all the dead Jews, we later saw more Jewish sites – but basically – dead.

Is this meant to be a Star of David? Is it just happenstance that it looks like this? Am I wrong about the star and the moon on the symbol of the city? Lets go ask Google. Well, not much help there, they simply describe the emblem, and to add to my discomfort – it is supposed to be on a blue background and the star is yellow- So the Nazis just appropriated a symbol that was already there? Makes sense, since they didn’t create anything, they appropriated and then destroyed. Oh well, lets move on.

Croatia is Roman Catholic – the last Catholic nation until you get Far East to the Philippines. This church is undergoing earthquake renovations, and yes, the tile roof is lovely.

1841, not bad.

Another nearby church, which I guessed was Orthodox because of all the mosaic, but no, it is Catholic-Eastern. When you are on the border, things do get mixed up.

You know me, I love mosaics. didn’t go inside, but I’m sure it was equally beautiful.

I think this is about the workshop that made these mosaics in 1910. I’m too lazy to go for translation. Of course the capitol of all mosaics is just across the Adriatic in Ravenna so makes sense they’d have them here as well.

I don’t know what this building is, all I know is that I love the rooftop. And using Google I figured out that this was built in 1888. I have such a problem doing crossword puzzles when they ask for the date in Roman numerals…. I’m fine until about 20…

this is how the whole group will look for the next week, bundled up against the cold. And here I am again, showing arrested decay – because it’s one of those things I love. I”m blaming the earthquake for revealing this, I’m also fascinated at what went into to making a brick wall.

OK, so here is some famous annoying graffiti, but what really caught my eye was the worn down poster. Octavia Butler, her famous book the Parable of the Sower! She was a native of Pasadena, lived for a while and is buried back in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, just north of Pasadena. On a tour of the cemetery (yeah, I have a thing for cemeteries) I saw her grave – just a simply marker. Good to know that someone here likes here, even if pasting this is a form of graffiti.

Next, we drive north to Slovania and Lake Bled.