Sunday, 26 August 2012

Here we go.... Bosnia Herzegovina PART ONE.

OK... Bosnia Herzegovina...

How do you hear about a place that has NO formal advertising? The best way... facebook and word of mouth. Personally for me it was the Kravice waterfalls that first sparked my interest in Bosnia. I had seen the Waterfalls on facebook a few times and was literally taken away beauty. Recently my friend H went there and again I was so intrigued about Bosnia and what else it had to offer. I am 24 years old so my memories of the war around 1994 were vague, in fact I am ashamed to say I have no personal recollection. People remember Bosnia Herzegovina as a part of the former Yugoslavia which has an infamous quality to it and almost puts off a lot of us ignorant tourists. I beg you... GO TO BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA! You will thank me!!! GO! GO NOW!

Bosnia Herzegovina is one country... but it is very much two contrasting areas. The Herzegovina area is very Mediterranean with it's rocky looking mountains filled with small shrubs etc. You literally pass through a long tunnel and you arrive in the Bosnian area which has windy roads decorated with heavily green landscapes. It is amazing to see how different they are from one another yet still remain the same country.

I will give you a rough run down of the tour and the six days we spent there. Again, I strongly urge you... if you are travelling Europe... do this tour!!! We did a seven day trip and there is so much to say so I will have to do it in a few different parts.

As you know Croatia is a very beautiful country and a high priority on many of our travel "TO DO" lists... but did you know you can do this tour which starts and finishes in Dubrovnik... so without even trying you can see Bosnia Herzegovina as well!!!!
If you are interested... check here: Bosnia Adventure Balkan Road Trip. (This is the trip we did.)


We met our tour group outside of the Konzum supermarket in Dubrovnik. It seemed like we were paired with a pretty cool group of people ranging from ages 24- 32. Maybe we were just lucky but everyone seemed to get on really well and we all really liked our Bosnian tour guide Mustafar... although his sense of humour was EXTREMELY sarcastic so bewarre of falling for things which he is actually joking about!!!! He knows Bosnia Herzegovina very well, having lived and grown up there, even living through the war as a young teenager. To get first hand experience on what it was like to live through a war... a war that happened in my life time was shocking and truly eye opening.

I will not go into the war, why it happened, or who is to blame...  It's not for me to say. Let's just say on this tour you will get a feel for the country, its history, food and culture. You will also appreciate the lives they live today.

After meeting at around 11, we set off for the beautiful Kravice waterfalls. This was the main attraction for my original interest in Bosnia. We had lunch right here at the waterfalls and sampled one of Bosnia's famous Civapi (ground meat sausage... way better than it sounds). If you think my amateur photo's look amazing (which i do) then just google them to see how much better it gets! Because europe is SO hot and dry at the moment apparently these waterfalls were rather dried up... either way... despite the crowd on the day... they were beautiful and the water was cold which was a lovely way to escape the forty degree heat!

After the waterfalls we headed to Mostar, a city in the Herzegovina area. This city is small, very hot in the summer (temperatures got up to 47 degree celsius this summer) but definitly worthhile! The Old Bridge in Mostar is proabably the most iconic landmark you will see. I had never seen or heard much about it before entering Mostar and I was amazed by its beauty. The Old Bridge has been restored after it was bombed and destroyed during the war. It is 25 metres high and men actually jump/dive off it! You can actually die from jumping off a bridge this height! So it is amazing yet a little scary to see people doing it! Not just any man does it though. If you stay in Mostar you will most likely see at lease one local man jump the bridge, they usually stand at the top and wait until they have at least 50km (local currency) before they make the dive! Considering over 40% of Bosnians are unemployed you can appreciate the asking. Besides, at least they are doing something for their cash! Hamish and Andy (Australian radio duo) also made it well known in Aus when they jumped off it!

We had a really nice dinner at restaurant, then went to a bar to drink cocktails and smoke shishas. Afterwards we went to 'Ali Baba' a nightclub in a cave... interesting place. I have to say that I got used to smoking bans inside venues at home... I forgot what it was like to smell like smoke after a night out erghhh.

The VIP section.....??

sweating it up.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Some notes on Salzburg, Budapest and Croatia.

I am so far behind. Forgive me! I have just been way too busy to write! So much has happened since my last post that I just can't keep up! I don't want to rush any of my posts about places so I have decided to put up a few photo's and brief descriptions of where we have been since Germany. When I have more time I promise to go into further details!

First off! The hills are aliveeeeeeee..... Salzburg!! Aka the place where The Sound of Music was set. I wanted to do the Sound of Music tour so bad! It is also where Mozart is from. Didn't end up getting around to it though, which I'm sure Gman was thrilled about. Salzburg is so beautiful and really quite clean. There is plenty to do here and it is definitely worth the visit if you are travelling Europe.
This restaurant was really nice! The restaurant goes back into the cliff and is made into little caves. 


Next stop Budapest... I wish I could say I really liked Budapest. I hate to say that I didn't. But... I didn't. I think sometimes your accommodation has a lot to do with your stay and our hostel was awful. I also think my skin was terrorised in the thermal baths... ergh. Budapest is famous in the summer time for their 'ruin bars' which are bars set up in old ruins of buildings. One that I went to was nothing special and was pretty much like the Bay Hotel, but dirtier. The other one was pretty cool and had a really cool vibe to it. I liked it there. We also went to a hideous thermal baths ''rave'' that everyone in the hostel was saying was ''the best night ever''. It was pretty gross, filled with predator men and couples showing huge amounts of PDA. We called it a night when we saw two people next to us having sex... in the same water everyone was in.... the same water that when people splashed the water went in your cup... delish? Maybe I just wasn't too impressed with Budapest because we had just come from Salzburg which was immaculate and I loved it there. I guess you're not going to LOVE everywhere you go!
I really wish I had a better picture of this bar. 

The rave at the thermal baths. 

I just realised, I have pretty much no pictures worth showing of Budapest. 

Next stop CROATIA! It was heaven to arrive here! We had a sleeper on an overnight train so we slept the whole time. We woke up, opened the blind and I literally gasped because the view was so beautiful. The mountains were so Mediterranean and rocky, I have never seen anything like it. Next to it was the sea and in the middle was a little village.

Not much room to move but it was so worth having a sleeper! 

We arrived in Split and head to our hostel before going to the beach for a sun baking session. I had no expectations of Split and I found that I really liked it there. It had a harbour and beaches and markets, what more do you need.

Hvar island was the next stop and if you ever go to Croatia you MUST go here. It is a bit of a party island, but it doesn't have to be if you don't want it to be. There are lovely beaches with the most beautiful water I have ever seen! I want to go back here and spend more time sun baking! I hate rushing this Croatia section, but there is so much to say that I will write a HUGE detailed post when I come home. Remember this is just an over view!

Dubrovnik was a much bigger seaside city where we spent a bit of time. It had great food and the weather was perfect! The beaches again were lovely. Very different from home though. When you go to the beach in Dubrovnik you pretty much find a rock face and lie on it. It is actually kind of nice though and you don't get sand everywhere.  We did sea kayaking, ate lots of ice cream and sea food and drank a lot.

Split, Croatia. 

Split at night. 

One of the many beaches on Hvar Island. 


One of our many seafood dinners while in Croatia. 


How AMAZING is my sun baking spot!

Our tour group (Bosnian post to come soon) having some drinks in Dubrovnik.

Having cherry brandies after ANOTHER seafood platter! Dubrovnik

Walking around the City Walls in Dubrovnik gives you some great views over the city. 


Drinking my wine from a plastic cup overlooking the Ocean! So nice!

  • Our Bosnia Herzegovina tour. SUCH an amazing place and I am so glad we went! It was like a history, cultural and food tour all in one!! 
  • Italy!!! 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Germany and what not.

I left you in Prague. I was pretty excited about the place, but since then things just keep getting better! So far we have been to quite a few places and I have just been a lazy blogger! tsk tsk.

Sorry about the lengthy read!
I think I will write about:
  • Berlin
  • Munich
  • Nurnberg, for those who are geographically challenged (my sister, B this is you) these top three are all Germany.
I am currently in Hvar, Croatia.... Paradise!! It is apparently a bit of a party island and you see that for sure, but it is so beautiful that there is heaps of other things to do here too! 


    First of all... be warned... If you go to Germany, it is 100% certain that you will gain at least 5kg. I tried to tell myself that I was just overreacting, and then my shorts didn't fit... it's real.... As I've mentioned before meals here are mostly meat and carb.... vegetables are a myth. I don't remember the last time I had some, and I am seriously CRAVING them!

    Back to business... Berlin was a really cool place, HUGE. This city has so much to offer and plenty of history. I won't go too much into the history, because honestly I don't know much of it accurately enough. We had three nights in Berlin, it was enough to see the basics but you could definitely see more if you have the time. The main area of Berlin is Berlin Mitte, which is around Alexanderplatz... (the main train station.)
    The Berlin Cathedral is a beautiful place! It is huge and a complete stand out in the city, you can't help but notice it. We went inside, as the Gman loves a good old look in a cathedral. It was only a couple of euro. The decorations inside were elaborate and it was probably the most impressive one I have seen.
    We also did a day trip out to the concentration camp, Sachenhausen. This horrible place wasn't a used for mass executions, but more of a work/labour camp. The conditions were awful, and predictably overcrowded. Most of the camp was demolished so it was a little hard to get a feel for the place, there were about three buildings standing. We did an audio tour which was really informative but not very interactive. We also did the holocaust memorial in Berlin which is underground and I felt that was more informative than the camp.

East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall. 

Berlin Wall.


Berlin Cathedral

If only pictures did this place justice...

Holocaust memorial.
Food... if you want to see why the shorts don't fit...
We went to a German restaurant called Dicke Wirtin, which is in the district of Charlottenburg (a cute neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants and bars). I had a really yummy german meal of roast pork, potato dumplings and red cabbage *hallelujah* veg! The portion size was huge, but I managed... I do like food! (obviously)
We found this restaurant through trip advisor... my new besty. Such a handy website, so easy to find good restaurants if you want to try a particular cuisine.

German meal at Dicke Wirte.

  • NURNBERG: We went here because we wanted to see another place in Germany. I am so glad we did because we both really enjoyed it. Nurnburg is also infamous for various war time movements, but I don't want to focus on that because these days the city has so much to offer. Nurnberg is known for its Christmas market, and I love Christmas! I would love to go to the market in winter, it is apparently beautiful, and what's more... they serve hot wine there... We went out for meals on the canals, drank at local pubs and weren't surrounded by too many flocks of fellow tourists aka "ozzies". 
Opting for salad. HUGE tuna salad! nom.

Where we had dinner.

Overlooking Nurnberg.

The rain stopped for five minutes!

Munich... our last stop in Germany! 
We arrived in Munich and were overwhelmed by the size of the place. We had no idea how big it was... Nurnberg was a much smaller city. Munich is in the state of Bavaria which is totally different from the rest of Germany. Bavarian people have their own traditions and pride themselves on Beer! 
We checked out the city on another free walking tour, they are everywhere you just google free things to do in the city you're in and you find heaps of options!! 
We met up with our German friend J, who lives in Munich and he showed us around. He took us to a German bier garten which was really nice, very busy and had live music. I even drank beer! I am becoming a new person...I don't like this new voluptuous version of myself, if it depressing! I want to be this again ( I miss the six week challenge.) Boooooooo. It is just so hard to enjoy the culture and try new things without gaining weight. 
Sorry for the whinge... 
Moving on...

Our friend J also met us the next morning as he insisted we have to try a traditional Bavarian breakfast... This breakfast consists of a big pretzel (which is traditionally German, not American!) steamed Weiss wurst (white sausage) which you take the skin off and eat with a sweet mustard... of course you drink it with beer... traditionally you have to eat this meal before 12pm as the sausages are quite perishable. J said that traditionally in villages they had a bell that was rung at 12pm to say that weiss wurst were no longer available.... I love Germany and their traditions! I wish we had weird traditions like this. 

Next stop Neuschwanstein Castle!! What a place!! This is the castle that the famous Disney castle is based on. It is a beautiful castle in a picturesque village. King Ludwig II built the castle, he was an eccentric man who was infamous for spending enormous amounts of money and one day mysteriously disappearing... their are lots of theories behind his disappearance, but most think it was foul play. When you walk through the castle you feel like you are in Beauty and the Beast. The ballroom and the library are like straight from the film! I really enjoyed our day trip there. We got some great photos and even got to walk down a waterfall. This tour is a MUST, but it is a lot easier if you go on an organised tour as you don't have to line up for hours for a ticket. 

The famous castle!

The walk after the castle, the waterfalls were beautiful.

Beer Garden.

Bavarian breakfast!

I hope that reading didn't exhaust you!!

Just so you know, I won't be able to post for at least a week! We have booked an organised tour for a week check it out Balkan road trip. I am so excited for it! Speak soon lovelies.