Driving Through Albania

August 11, 2016 - 5:01 am 1 Comment

Done with Kotor, we headed southward to Albania and to its capital, Tirana (TEE-raw-nah). Sitting in a minivan for a few hours, conversations turned more crude as we all got to know each other a little better. Matthew taught us the terms “instavomit” and “invagination”, which we have used to humorous effect.

We stopped for lunch at a sketchy restaurant on a river just across the Albanian border. I was craving chicken, but the only chicken item on the menu was chicken penne. I took a chance, and it was completely awful. I half-joked that it was not chicken but one of the many stray cats that wandered around the restaurant as we ate.

On the Drin River Read the rest of this entry »

Two Days in Kotor

August 9, 2016 - 8:54 am 2 Comments

On our way down to Montenegro, I think things are slowly starting to look more Greek. Greenery turned more scrubby, limestone block construction gave way to flat white stucco, and arches began to appear over doorways and windows.

We pulled off the road to take a quick stop at Our Lady of the Rocks Church. A little boat took us over for a quick look-around before getting back in the bus and continuing southward. Compared to Croatia, traffic around these parts seems a little pushy and undisciplined, with cars making their own lanes and their own rules.

Our Lady of the Rocks Church Read the rest of this entry »

Dubrovnik & the New Group

August 7, 2016 - 3:30 am 1 Comment

It was obvious as soon as we arrived that Dubrovnik is the most heavily touristed city in Croatia. Hordes of poorly dressed, camera-toting sightseers fill the old city, which has become even more popular in recent years as the setting for the popular TV show “Game of Thrones”.

Steps of Dubrovnik Read the rest of this entry »

A Fantastic Day in Hvar

August 5, 2016 - 4:48 am 1 Comment

A short ferry ride took us to Hvar, a long, skinny island just off the coast from Split. As we took a quick walk around the marina and tiny old town, sun beamed off the polished white limestone covering the ground. This is a place for sunglasses.

Hvar Marina Read the rest of this entry »

Split

August 3, 2016 - 5:57 pm No Comments

Split is a good sized resort town filled with yachts and cruise ships, surrounded by mountains that make it look a bit like Tucson. A faint sulfur smell from nearby, naturally occurring sources, fills the city.

On our first night in Split, the group of us went to a booming outdoor nightclub near the beach. I’ve gotten much of the group drinking rum and cokes. Gabo and I bonded with some great conversation about the life of a G Adventures CEO and about how one of his best friends is Fredy, the CEO I had for a previous Rome to Madrid G Adventures trip that I took last year. When we discovered that my favorite restaurant in the world, La Cabrera in Buenos Aires, was also his favorite restaurant, we knew we would be friends forever. Then one of the girls knocked over a glass, cracking it and badly cutting Gabo’s hand.

Hat Trick Nightclub in Split Read the rest of this entry »

The Pools & Ponds & Lakes & Streams & Waterfalls of Plitvice

August 3, 2016 - 2:24 pm 1 Comment

We got to Plitvice Lakes National Park in late afternoon, with enough time to hike through about half the park. The skies were cloudy, which made this particular hike a lot more tolerable than they have been.

Scenery is beautiful. Lakes and waterfalls everywhere.

Jeff & Gabo in Plitvice Read the rest of this entry »

Two Days in Zagreb

August 1, 2016 - 10:27 am 2 Comments

Spent a couple of days touring around Zagreb (ZAH-gdib) on my own. With its old world architecture and cobblestone and cafe culture, Zagreb could be almost any other city in Europe. It bears similarities to Budapest and Prague and Vienna. But from a tourist perspective, it doesn’t really seem like there’s a whole lot to do there. I was able to comfortably hit all the highlights in a day and a half.

The Zagreb Cathedral had scaffolding on it, of course. Is it a requirement for all my photo stops to be covered in scaffolding?

Zagreb Cathedral Read the rest of this entry »

Flight of the Midnight Sun

July 29, 2016 - 10:58 pm 1 Comment

First flight of the day was a 13-minute hop from Nanaimo to Vancouver. One of the things I miss most when I’m out of the country is a good cheeseburger, so I have a tradition of eating the biggest, juiciest, tastiest burger before heading overseas. That plan was thwarted by the lack of selection in Vancouver Airport’s Terminal D. I settled for a greasy mess of a burger and an even greasier mess of poutine from Canadian fast food chain A&W.

My second flight was delayed because of a problem with the PA system, despite the fact that they used the PA system to keep us updated on the problem. We left about an hour late.

Out the window to my left, I saw the majestic and snowy Canadian Rockies.

Canadian Rockies from the Air Read the rest of this entry »

Family Time in Parksville

July 28, 2016 - 4:17 pm 1 Comment

Got dropped at the gas station in Parksville and was met with hugs from my mom and sister. After a week of solo travel, it was great be with family again.

Parksville is a small town nestled between mountains and rocky beaches. It’s filled with deer, black bunnies, and old people. We’d spend the days seeing the local sights: an international sand castle competition, Little Mountain, Horne Lake, Qualicum Falls, and Rathtrevor Beach, which is the most massive beach I have ever seen when the tide is out. It’s a half-mile walk to the water’s edge.

Sand Castle Competition Read the rest of this entry »

Butchart Gardens & Victoria

July 22, 2016 - 5:30 pm 1 Comment

So it’s actually a bit of a hassle getting from Vancouver to Victoria. You’d think there would be convenient departures from Vancouver, but it takes almost two hours of trains and buses just to get to the ferry terminal south of the city. Then another hour and a half on the ferry itself.

The boat is enormous, pretty much the size of a cruise ship, only a bit more industrial-looking. The ride is slow and smooth and rumbles with a vibration that feels kind of nice if you’re sitting in the right part of the boat.

Sunrise on the Strait of Georgia Read the rest of this entry »