Posted by: lindsaygoes | November 5, 2016

Seeing Qatar

Sunday 30th October 2016
Budapest, Hungary to Doha, Qatar

We flew out of Budapest this morning and flew to Qatar. The line to get through passport control was very slow, should have got my book out and done some reading!

Once we got to our hotel it was fairly late so we just had a bit of a walk to find some dinner and then went to bad.

Monday 31st October
Doha, Qatar

This morning we went out to do some sightseeing, but seriously underestimated some of the distances on the map. Turned out what we had assumed was a fairly short walk from our hotel to the Museum of Islamic Art, was around 5 kilometres, which was made more unpleasant by the heat and the fact that it isn’t a city that is designed for pedestrians. We reached the museum just before it opened and once we got in, it was really nice to get out of the heat. The museum was really interesting, there was a huge range of art, but it was also beautifully presented, with the artworks gently spotlit in darkened galleries. The building itself was also magnificent.


After the museum, we decided that taxis would be the best way to get around for the rest of the day, and caught one to Katara, a cultural village in Doha. There wasn’t much going on when we were there, and it’s still under construction, so most of the people we saw were construction workers. The area has reconstructions of traditional buildings, so it was fairly pleasant to walk around, if a bit surreal.

Once we had finished walking around Katara we decided we wanted some lunch, so got in another taxi and headed to the Villagio, a Venetian themed shopping mall. I’m not a huge shopper, but it was air conditioned, had a mock canal and an ice skating rink, so it was an interesting stop. I probably would have appreciated it more if it hadn’t taken over an hour to get there in Doha’s traffic.
Then we headed back to our hotel, had a bit of a rest and then took another taxi to Souk Wakif, the main market of Doha. It had lots of little alleyways to get lost in, and a high variety of clothes, handicrafts and souvenirs. Definitely worth a visit, and we also got some dinner while we were there.

Souq Wakif

dsc_9046

Tuesday 1st November 2016
Doha, Qatar to home

This morning we had a day tour booked around the North of Qatar. Our first stop (after getting out of the city) was Al Khor, an older city of Qatar which has a lot of fishing boats, a boat building yard and some mangroves. We had a few brief stops where we saw the fishing boats, the boat yard, some mangroves and a bit of a view along the waterfront.

Our next stop was the Jumail, a fishing village which was abandoned in the 1970s, and was reached via an unpaved rocky track. It is crumbling away, but an interesting spot, it was just a shame that there was so much rubbish around.

Jumail Village

Then we drove to Zubara Fort, which was built in 1938 and has just been renovated. There were some interesting exhibits on the local culture and archeological findings as well as a small (well air-conditioned) museum on the pearl diving industry next door. Once we were done we headed back to the car to find our guide/driver was looking under the car as there was a moderate volume of liquid dripping out of it. After a bit of a smell test we decided it wasn’t anything to worry about (hopefully) and headed back to Doha. We got back safe and sound and got dropped off at the City Center Mall, which also had an ice skating rink and some options for lunch.

Zubara Fort

Then it was back to our hotel, where we kindly had a late check out so we could ha be a shower and get changed before heading for the airport to go home.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | November 2, 2016

Sightseeing in Slovenia 

Thursday 27th October 2016
Zagreb, Croatia to Ljubljana, Slovenia

We caught an early morning train from Zagreb to Ljubljana in Slovenia. After dropping our bags at the hotel we had a walking tour around the city, which gave us some interesting stories. We also visited a few buildings like the town hall and St Nicholas’s Church, the Cathedral of Ljubljana. Unfortunately I had been overly optimistic about the weather, and I was freezing!

After the walking tour we went back to the hotel to check in and grab some extra layers. Then we grabbed some lunch and walked up Castle Hill to Ljubljana Castle. It had some wonderful views and interesting exhibits and walking up all the stairs definitely warmed me up! 

After the castle we walked back down to the river, crossed the dragon bridge and walked to Metelkova, an area of Ljubljana with some interesting street art. It took us a little bit of walking to find it because we only had a vague area circled on the map (which wasn’t completely accurate!) but we eventually found it and there was some cool street art and sculptures there. It was an old barracks which had now been turned into an autonomous culture zone (whatever that is) and was worth the walk from the center of town.

Then we did a bit of browsing and shopping in the town before going out for dinner.

Friday 28th October 2016
Ljubljana and Bled, Slovenia

This morning we caught the bus for a day trip to Lake Bled. We manage to catch the slow bus, which stopped fairly frequently, but there was some interesting scenery.

Once we got to Lake Bled we walked up to the castle, which had a lovely view over the lake, although it would have been nice if it was a bit less foggy. Can’t complain too much though, as it least it wasn’t raining. As well as the view, the castle itself was nice to walk through, perched on the hill above the lake looking like a fairy tale castle. It had a little museum and a few interesting souvenir shops, including a bee hive one and a forge. We also tried the Bled cream cake, the symbol of Bled. It was pretty tasty.

Once we had seen everything at the castle we headed back down, grabbed some lunch and then walked around the lake. It was about a 6 kilometre walk, but very flat, so it felt shorter. We had some great views of the castle and also of Bled Island, which had a cute little church on it, and we could see rowboats going to and fro.

Once we’d walked around the lake we caught the bus back to Ljubljana and then found a supermarket to grab some snacks.

For dinner we went to the Open Kitchen, an open air food market that is open on Fridays and has a range of different cuisines. I grabbed a Thai Red Curry which was delicious, but very spicy! I think my taste buds have lost some of their chilli tolerance after the food on this trip!

Saturday 29th October 2016
Ljubljana, Slovenia to Budapest, Hungary

Today was one of those unpleasant but necessary travel days as we had an eight hour train ride back to Budapest. Once we got into Budapest there wasn’t much time to do anything but get some dinner.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 31, 2016

Croatia, Part 2

Sunday 23rd October 2016
Hvar to Split, Croatia

From Hvar we had a ferry to split and then a short taxi ride to our hotel. After checking in we headed down to the waterfront and the Diocletian’s Palace. We grabbed some lunch and then had a walking tour through the palace. The palace is more of a walled fortress than a single building and was built in the fourth century AD by the Roman Emperor Diocletian (I’m assuming not by him personally, but on his behalf). A number of the original buildings have been destroyed over time, but there was still a fair bit of original architecture, and our guide was pretty informative.

After the palace we caught a bus to Trogir, another historic town in Croatia and had a wander through some of the alleyways. We also climbed to the top of Fortress Kamerlengo which had a great view over the city. On the way back we ended up on a very local bus which wound its way through the streets, stopping frequently, which gave us a nice relaxing journey back to our hotel.

Monday 24th October 2016
Split to Plitvice National Park, Croatia

From Split we had a private transfer to Plitvice National Park. We couldn’t check in straight away, so grabbed some lunch, checked in and then headed into the park.

We did the upper lakes first, catching the bus to the top and then walking down. The scenery was fantastic! We were surrounded by gorgeous orange and yellow trees as it was moving into Autumn, and walked past gorgeous lakes and waterfalls. I think the photos speak more for how stunning everything was than I can. Once we reached the bottom we caught the ferry back across the lake before a little rest before dinner.

Tuesday 25th October 2016
Plitvice National Park to Zagreb, Croatia

We had another walk in the park this morning, concentrating on the lower lake this time. We caught the bus to the top and then got some amazing views down to the lake, and then of Veliki Slap, a 78m high waterfall. The colours of the lakes were amazing, and again the beautiful Autumn colours were gorgeous. We managed to miss most of the other tourists this morning and for most of the walk it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Then we caught the ferry back, had some lunch and then it was on to Zagreb.

Once we got to Zagreb we had a bit of a wander around the city, we visited Tunnel Gric, a World War II bunker which we walked through. It was very atmospheric, and enormous in one section! We went to the Museum of Broken Relationships, which was quite interesting. It had all sorts of donated items, each with a story of why they represented the particular broken relationship. Then we had a bit of an evening drink before dinner.

Wednesday 26th October 2016
Zagreb, Croatia

Our first stop this morning was the Zagreb Botanical Gardens, which had a lovely selection of plants and was really nice to walk through. It had rained before we came in, so all the plants were covered in tiny droplets.

After that we went on a walking tour which covered the two oldest parts of the city. Our guide was very entertaining and taught us the history of the city as well as sharing some interesting stories. One of my favourite was about the cathedral. One morning a woman was walking past when she saw someone doing handstands on one of the spires. She called the fire brigade and by the time they arrived there was a crowd cheering on the acrobatics of the man on the spire. They went up to see what he was doing, and it turned out he had been to the fire station a few days before to ask for a job but had been told he didn’t have the right skills. Rather than arresting him, they gave him a job and he worked for the fire brigade for the next few decades.

After our walking tour we wandered through the city a bit more and went up to the top of the Zagreb eye for a great view of the city. 

Then we headed back to catch up on laundry, the last load for the trip! Then it was out for dinner.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 28, 2016

Croatia, Part 1

Tuesday 18th October 2016 (continued)
Dubrovnik, Croatia

We arrived in Dubrovnik, got rid of our luggage and then caught the bus to the Old Town. After a bit of a wander through some of the streets we visited the Maritime Museum, which had some interesting exhibits and model ships, and then decided to walk along the city walls as it looked like the rain was going to hold off. Luckily for us it stayed nice and dry, although it did get a bit windy at times. There were some fantastic views from the walls, both into and out of the Old City.

After the city walls, we visited some more of the museums and galleries within Dubrovnik. First we went to the Rector’s Palace, which has had a bit of a turbulent history, being damaged by earthquakes, explosions, fires and lightning. It had some interesting exhibits on some of the history of the building and Dubrovnik. Next we went to the Pulitika Gallery, which had some nice artworks, and then manage to find our way to the Natural History Museum, which had some really interesting ways of presenting some of the exhibits. Next it was on to the Marin Drzica House, Croatia’s version of Shakespeare and the Franciscan Monastery Museum, which had a lovely, peaceful courtyard, and also was attached to one of the oldest pharmacies in the world.

After all that sightseeing, with lots of stairs, it was time for some ice-cream, and then we walked up some more stairs to Fort Lovrijenac. We walked up to the base of the actual fort and decided not to go in so we could save some money. It turned out that our city wall tickets included entry, so we shouldn’t have been so cheap!

At that point the sky was looking a bit gloomy, so we headed back to our hotel, and it did start raining a little later.

Wednesday 19th October 2016
Dubrovnik, Croatia

This morning we set off reasonably early so we could get started on sight seeing. We first headed to the cable car entrance and then got the cable car up to Fort Imperial. There were some great views over the Old Town, and along the coast. We bought the cheaper one way tickets on the cable car, so walked down, which we were really glad we did as some of the views on the walking track were even better as they didn’t a have all the cables in the way. It was also a sunny day, but not too hot, so perfect for a walk.

Once we got into the Old Town we headed for the Old Port and were just in time to get a panoramic cruise. It was on an old style boat, and gave us a view of the outside of the city walls but also went around Lokrum Island, which was nice, although I’m not sure how much the people at the nudist beach appreciated the sightseers on our boat!

After that we joined a walking tour of Dubrovnik, which was really good. Our guide was very knowledgeable and funny and took us into a couple of buildings as well as giving us some of the history of the city and tips and tricks for getting in (that’s how we found out about our city wall tickets giving us access to the fort the day before). Then we had a stroll through some of the side streets and alleys of the Old Town before catching the bus back to close to our hotel. Then we had a bit of a stroll along the waterfront near our hotel, and then when our feet got tired caught the bus back to our hotel.

After a bit of a rest we caught the bus back to the Old Town and had a bit of a walk around as the sun was setting. The light on the buildings was gorgeous and then it was great walking around the Old Town at dusk as the lights were starting to come on in all the alleyways and on the buildings.

Thursday 20th October 2016
Dubrovnik to Korcula, Croatia

This morning we had a bus ride before hopping on a small boat to Korcula, a Croatian Island where Marco Polo was apparently born. There were lots of gift shops where you could buy everything from Marco Polo branded ice-cream to incense. The normal hotel the tour uses was closed because it was the end of the season, so we got upgraded to a fancier hotel with two swimming pools and we got a suite to stay in which was nice. It would have been even nicer if the shower had hot water, but you can’t have everything.

We had a bit of a walk around the Old Town and climbed the bell tower of St Mark’s Cathedral to get a nice view of the town. We also visited the city museum which had some exhibits from the town’s history, including some old toys and outfits.

After that we headed back to our hotel and made the most of the indoor pool for a few hours before heading back into the Old Town. We took some photos of the buildings lit up before having a tasty dinner on a terrace. In a building near by there was a choir practicing, so we had some singing to accompany our food.

Friday 21st October 2016
Korcula to Hvar, Croatia

We had an early start this morning as there was only one ferry to Hvar Island, our next stop, and we didn’t want to miss it! Once we arrived we had quite a long walk, up lots of stairs to our guesthouse. Not my favourite activity when I’ve got a large backpack!

After dropping off all our gear it was time for breakfast at a cafe, and then, as most of the boat based activities weren’t running because it was the end of the season, we caught the local bus to the Old Town, Stari Grad. We had a bit of a wander through the town, seeing some of the monasteries and cathedrals, and also visited Fortress Trvdalj, the fortified summer residence of Croatian Poet Peter Hektorovic. It was a nice little spot to visit, with a sea-water fishpool, some nice gardens and a viewpoint over the town. Then we had a relaxing lunch before heading back to Hvar town.

Once back in Hvar we had a lazy afternoon relaxing in our accommodation before heading back into the town for dinner. We couldn’t remember where our tour lead had recommended so we wandering around being stunned by all the prices before eventually picking somewhere.
Saturday 22nd October 2016
Hvar, Croatia

This morning our first stop was the fortress. As is always the way, it was at the top of a hill, but we set off before it got too hot, and there were some nice gardens in between the town and the fortress. The view from around the fortress was lovely, looking over the town, bay and nearby islands, and the sky was very clear. When we reached the fortress there was no one in the ticket office, so we snuck into the fortress and had a bit of a look around. The gorgeous views over the bay continued and there was a little museum as well.

From the fortress we headed down to the waterfront, passing a few churches along the way, then walked along the waterfront. The water was very clear and inviting, but a little cold! After heading as far as we could in one direction, we walked back to the town and along the coastline the other way, before heading back to the town for some lunch.

After lunch there wasn’t much more to be seen, so we just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 25, 2016

Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Saturday 15th October 2016
Kotor, Montenegro to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

We left Kotor in the morning and headed through Montenegro, stopping at some gorgeous viewpoints on the way. We crossed into Bosnia and Herzegovina a bit before lunch and then stopped for lunch before arriving in Sarajevo in the afternoon.

After checking in we had a bit of a walk around the old town of Sarajevo, visiting the Latin Bridge, where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, the Sacred Heart Cathedral, and we also wandered around some of the little alleyways in Bascarsija, the old Ottoman quarter. We also walked up to the Yellow Fortress, which gave us a fantastic view over Sarajevo as the day was drawing to a close.

Then we walked back into the town and went to the Galerija 11/07/95 which tells the story of the Srebrenica massacre through photographs and videos, as well as an audio guide, exploring the massacre itself and the aftermath. It was a very moving experience.

After that it was dinner time and we had a tasting menu which gave us a sample of a range of different Bosnian dishes.

Sunday 16th October 2016
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This morning everyone from our group was heading to the Tunnel of Hope tour, but I had done it last time I was in Sarajevo, so I walked along the river to the National Museum. It was a nice walk, even when I went to far and had to come back!

The National Museum was pretty big, with three different buildings I went into (I skipped the library) and I felt like I was the only one there for most of the time I was walking around. The museum contains the Sarajevo Haggadah, an illuminated Jewish manuscript which has survived many close calls with destruction. It is now under high security so I could only look at it in its case from a few meters away. The rest of the museum also had some interesting exhibits, with a typical 19th century Bosnian house exhibit, as well as a large natural history wing. I particularly appreciated the interesting taxidermy specimens, with some rather unnatural expressions, the rows of rocks with no English labelling, and the beetles, which someone must have spent an enormous amount of time cataloging.

After the National Museum I went next door to the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It had a really moving exhibit on ‘Sarajevo under Seige’ which had everyday objects from the seige from 1992 to 1995. It also had a fantastic photographic exhibit which had photographs taken around the city in 1996 and again fifteen years later, which really highlighted all the destruction that had occurred within the city, and it’s recovery since then.

Then I walked back along the river, although unfortunately it had started raining, but I did have an umbrella with me, so I didn’t get too wet! After a bit of lunch and a walk around some of the streets and bazaars, we had a walking tour around the city, which was really interesting and gave some of the older history of Sarajevo. It was very interesting to see the different architectural styles between the Ottoman section of the city and the Austro-Hungarian sections.

After a bit of a rest we had some grilled chicken for dinner.

Monday 17th October 2016
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Sarajevo we drove to Mostar, a really lovely city. We arrived around lunchtime and checked out the Stari Most (the Old Bridge) from a number of different viewing points, walked across the bridge and through some of the streets filled with shops selling a range of souvenirs. We also went to the Koski Mehmed-Pasha Mosque, and climbed the minaret, which had a great view of the bridge and the town. It was a very narrow, winding staircase to get up and down though!

The town and bridge were a great place to visit, it was really nice walking around, and as it’s a fairly small place everything could be done at a relaxed pace. For dinner, I had a traditional Bosnian meal with fish cooked under the ashes, which was very tasty. After dinner we had a short extra walk around the town to see everything lit up at night.

Tuesday 18th October 2016
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Dubrovnik, Croatia

On our way out of Bosnia and Herzegovina we stopped off at the Kravice waterfalls, which was a nice stop. It was a bit cold for swimming, but we had the area to ourselves, so plenty of time to walk around and take some photographs.

After that we headed for Croatia, which I’ll talk about in the next post.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 22, 2016

Stunning Montenegro

Thursday 13th October 2016 (continued)
Budva, Montenegro

We arrived in Budva around 5pm, but still had a bit of time to explore the town. We headed for the waterfront, and then had a bit of an explore of Stari Grad, the medieval old town. There are lots of narrow, twisting alleys surrounded by high stone walls, and the fading light gave the town a lovely atmosphere, particularly when the streets opened out onto courtyards with lit up churches or other buildings. We also went up to the Citadel, which had some lovely views over the area.

Friday 14th October 2016
Budva and Kotor, Montenegro

This morning we caught a local bus from Budva to Kotor, which also has a medieval town. After a short stroll around the town we walked up the walls of Kotor Fortress up to the Castle of St John. It was quite a long way up, which involved manoeuvring around other travellers on their way up or down. Luckily it was a lovely sunny day, but not too hot, and there were some fantastic views all the way along to the top.

Once we had climbed up and down we had a bit more of a wander around the town. We even found a cat museum, although couldn’t find the actual entrance, which is a shame as it looked quite interesting.

We had a bit of lunch, had a look in some shops and then went to catch the bus back to Kotor. We think our bus either didn’t show up, or was so late it made the next time slot, but we eventually got on, and managed to get dropped off right outside our hotel, which was a bonus. After that we went back into Kotor and had an explore in the daylight and walked along a bit of a track to the next beach over. It was warm enough that I almost wished I had my swim suit with me.

Then we had a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner, fresh fish, yum! After dinner we wandered around the town a bit more. As it was the end of the season it had a slightly weird atmosphere, with half the stalls closed and others selling a mixture of winter and summer clothes, and just a few people wandering around like us.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 20, 2016

Albania, better the second time

Wednesday 12th October 2016
Ohrid, Macedonia to Tirana, Albania

After Lake Ohrid in Macedonia, we headed to the capital city of Albania, Tirana. Last time I was in Albania I wasn’t particularly impressed and it was the one place I had visited that I was happy to never go to again. Now that I have been to Albania again I’m happy to say my opinion has changed!

After arriving in Tirana we dropped our luggage off at the hotel and headed for the city centre. After a quick pastry for lunch we visited the National Historical Museum which had some interesting exhibits and artefacts. Unfortunately as we moved up through the floors of the museum there was less and less English explanations, so some things were a bit hard to interpret.

After the museum we had a walking tour which took us around some of the main sites as well as giving us information on the history of Albania, particularly the recent communist history. It was very interesting, particularly the personal stories our guide told us about growing up during that period.

We also climbed to the top of the Clock Tower to get a view of the city, visited the Catholic and Orthodox Cathedrals and the Art Gallery. We also saw the PostBlock Memorial which contains a concrete bunker, a piece of the Berlin Wall and some concrete pillars from a mine in a forced labour camp. Another site we visited was the Pyramid of Tirana, also known as the International Center of Culture, which is currently closed and in a dispute about what is going to happen to it, so it was a bit abandoned looking and was being used a a giant slide.

After our tour we went to the top of the Sky Tower, a revolving bar, where we had some drinks and watched the sunset before having a very tasty dinner at a restaurant called Era.

Thursday 13th October 2016
Tirana, Albania to Budva, Montenegro, via Kruje, Albania

This morning we headed from Tirana to Kruje, a small town which has a museum dedicated to Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania who defended Albania from the Ottomans for 25 years. The museum was within Kruje castle, and we had an included tour which definitely helped clarify some of the history. Being in a castle, it was at the high point of the town, and had some fantastic views.

After our tour we had a bit of a wander through the streets which had quite a few little shops, and I had a traditional Albanian dish for lunch which was like a meat stew type dish and was quite nice. After that there was even time for ice-cream.

After our stop in Kruje it was back on the road and heading for Montenegro, which will be in the next post. 
 

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 17, 2016

Beautiful Macedonia 

Sunday 9th October 2016

Sofia to Skopje

We had another private bus today, which I wasn’t going to complain about as, even though I was feeling a bit better, I still wasn’t 100% so didn’t mind not having to go from taxi to bus to taxi to walking with my backpack. We headed from Bulgaria to Macedonia, the border crossing taking a couple of hours, with our first stop in Macedonia being Skopje, the capital city.

Skopje was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1963, and has also been undergoing a lot of building work, so many of the buildings are new. There are also a huge number of statues, sculptures and fountains. A number of the newer ones have been struck by the ‘colourful revolution’ being splashed with paint in protest for the amount they cost, government corruption and surveillance. 

As we were just there for the afternoon and evening we spent our time wandering around through the streets, bazaar and waterfront area and also up to the top of the fort for a view around the city as well as visiting the outside of Mother Teresa’s memorial room, which was closed. After dinner we got a bit of a look at some of the lit up buildings and fountains.

Monday 10th October 2016
Skopje to Lake Ohrid

After leaving Skopje we stopped at Matka Canyon where we had a boat ride to Vrelo Cave, which is possibly the deepest underwater cave in the world. The boat ride through the canyon was majestic, it was misty but not rainy, and with the canyon walls rising above us it felt like we could be in Lord of the Rings somewhere! There was only a small portion of the caves we could walk into, but hey were very cool with some fantastic stone formations and bats flying around.

After the boat ride back we had a bit of a break before getting back on the but and heading for Lake Ohrid. We didn’t have time for much more than an evening stroll before dinner.

Tuesday 11th October 2016
Ohrid

Today was spent exploring Ohrid, although the fact that we were woken up by the sound of rain was not a good sign!

We headed out, walking through the upper gate of the city and up to the fort (every place we’ve visited so far seems to have one!) which was called Czar Samuel’s Fortress and was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire around the 10th Century. 

Then we had to retrace our steps a little as we realise we had missed the ancient theatre, which was built in 200 BC (although only the two lower levels still exist) but is still used for performances in the summer.

Next we went to the Early Christian Basilica, which had some fantastic mosaics, and the St Panteleimon Monastery, both located on a hill called the Plaosnik.

Then we had a bit of a walk through some woods, hoping we were headed in the right direction. We did make it to our next target, the Church of St John the Theologian, which is situated on the top of a cliff above the lake. As it was still we and rainy we had to be careful not to slip on any of the paths.

Then we walked along the waterfront back to the main part of town, had some lunch and visited the local market. After a bit of an afternoon siesta we had a walk along the waterfront away from the old part of town.

For dinner I had some of the local Lake Ohrid trout which was very tasty but a bit of work to make sure I didn’t eat any bones! 

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 14, 2016

Catching cold in Bulgaria 

Friday 7th October 2016
Novi Sad to Sofia

The next morning we had a private bus which took us across the border from Serbia to Bulgaria and on to Sofia.

Once in Sofia we had a bit of time for exploring, although it was a bit rainy and I was getting a bit of a cold. We walked through town past a few churches and mosques and went to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Cathedrals in the world. The outside, with all its domes and columns was pretty impressive, and inside there were a lot of very serious looking images.

Then we went across the road to the Saint Sofia Church, the second oldest church in Sofia, which was a lot simpler from the outside, but had a lovely brick interior. It also has a museum underground which contains the remains of several earlier churches and tombs, which also includes some paintings and mosaics. Definitely worth a visit.

We also visited the Sofia History Museum which is in a gorgeous buildings which used to be the Turkish Mineral Baths and has some interesting exhibits looking at the different eras and living conditions throughout Sofia’s history.
Saturday 8th October 2016
Sofia

Unfortunately my cold was complicated by a stomach bug this morning so I got to add Bulgaria to my list of countries I had visited hospitals in. Fortunately it was just for an appointment so I could get some medication to help with feeling sick. Overall I was pretty impressed, very quick service, friendly staff and inexpensive.

Apart from the hospital though, I didn’t do any other sightseeing today.

Posted by: lindsaygoes | October 12, 2016

Adventures in Serbia 

Monday 3rd October 2016
Budapest to Novi Sad

We had an early start today to head to Serbia. We were catching the train to Novi Sad. The train journey took about eight hours, with the train travelling at a relaxed pace. However, the journey was interesting, passing through the country side with lots of farms and woods.

Once we arrived in Novi Sad we checked into our hotel and then had a bit of a walk, we went through the town centre and then went up to the Petrovaradin Fortress, although it was too late to go in. Then we went back into the town centre and had a look at the cathedral and some of the other lovely buildings before having dinner.

Tuesday 4th October 2016
Novi Sad to Belgrade

This morning the group met up and we walked back up to Petrovaradin Fortress where we went on a tunnel tour within the fort. The majority of the fortress was built by the Austrians in the 1700s but fortifications of one sort or another had been present since Roman times. There are around 16km of tunnels and we walked through around a kilometre of them, seeing gun holes, kitchen areas and shafts down to deeper levels. After walking around the tunnels we went to the fortress museum which had some more information on the history of the fortress and the area as well as information on some of the battles between the Austrians and the Ottomans. Then we walked around the fortress walls looking at the view of the Danube and surrounding areas.

After that we headed back into the town centre, had some lunch and a bit of a wander and then caught a bus into Belgrade.

It had started raining by the time we arrived in Belgrade, but luckily by the time we checked in it had stopped. We had a bit of a walk into the town centre and Republic Square and then had dinner on Skadarlija, a pedestrian street, and listened to some live Serbian music during dinner.

Wednesday 5th October 2016
Belgrade

We started our sightseeing by walking to Kalemegdan Park where we had a wander around the fort, saw the view of the Danube and Sava rivers and a dinosaur exhibition, as well as visiting the military museum, which had some interesting augmented reality exhibits and military costumes, although a lot was in Serbian, so I didn’t get the full picture.

Next we joined a walking tour which started in Republic Square and went through the history of Belgrade and Serbia as well as to some interesting areas of the city. We went back to Skadarlija, the bohemian quarter, where we had an opportunity to try Raki, a local alcoholic drink. Reactions throughout the group were mixed.

We also visited the oldest Turkish building and the oldest mosque in Belgrade, and went back to Kalemegdan park, where we saw the view of the Danube and Sava rivers again, heard some more history and saw the symbol of Belgrade, a naked man statue, representing all the soldiers who had fought for the city.

After the tour we grabbed a quick bite to eat, then headed for the Nikola Tesla museum, stopping to take some photos of the Hotel Moskva on the way. The Tesla museum was small but had some fascinating interactive electrical exhibits as well as items belonging to Tesla.

Next on the agenda was St Sava Temple, which is the biggest Orthodox church in the Balkans, which was very impressive from the outside, and under construction on the inside. It has been in progress since 1935, it was pretty cool to see the insides with a bare concrete floor and wrappings around all the columns, it was a real contrast from the marble exterior.

Walking back we passed a bomb site from 1999 when NATO bombed the city, and went to a local craft market. For dinner we went to a restaurant called the Taverna, and were served by a hilarious waiter who kept us laughing. The food was pretty good too!

Thursday 6th October
Belgrade to Nis

This morning we caught a local bus from Belgrade to Nis, it wasn’t a bad journey, although we were warned before-hand that there were no toilet breaks on the way.

Once we arrived, we got rid of our luggage then had a bit of a walk around. We walked through the main square, King Milan Square and through Nis Fortress.

Then we went to the Red Cross Concentration Camp, named after the local suburb, not the aid organisation. It is one of the best preserved concentration camps in Europe, and was the location of a massive escape of prisoners. It was a very somber place to visit, particularly with the rain beating down around us, but an interesting site.

After that, due to the rain, we caught a taxi across town to the Skull tower, which is a tower built by the Ottomans, containing skulls of Serbian Revolutionaries from 1809. I’m not sure having to clean almost 1000 skulls was a great reward for the victors of that battle, but it was fascinating to see the remaining skulls neatly lined up in rows on the tower.
Then we found another taxi and went to the Archaeological Hall, which was small, but had quite a few artefacts and models of tombs and it was amazing how long there had been settlement in the area for.

That was all our sightseeing for the day, so we headed back to our hotel for a bit of a break before going to Tinker’s Alley for dinner which was very nice. 

 

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