Saturday, July 29, 2006

Drooling in Dubrovnik

JULY 21 (Day 1 of tour): The 2.5 hour flight from Dubrovnik was painless enough, and as soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew the next week was going to be a tad warm - it was a steamy 30C at 10.30pm!

Jo, the tour manager, welcomed me and pointed me towards the coach that would become home for the next week. Misha, our ever-smiling Croatian driver met me at the bus, and other tour buddies started to arrive.

The drive into Dubrovnik took us around a winding road, that as we would see the next day, hugged high rocky mountains that plunged into the Adriatic sea below. The lights of Dubrovnik's Old Town soon twinkled below us, and we could just make out the borders of the giant walls that have surrounded and protected this city for thousands of years.

Our short journey for the evening finished at Lapad, a residential area about 10 minutes out of the Old Town. We rolled our bags down a wide pedestrian promenade lined by palm trees and soaked up the balmy atmosphere (and strains of "American Pie" at a local bar), as we came to the charming Hotel Zagreb.

Rooms and room-buddies were allocated quickly, and we spent our first night in Dubrobnik in air-conditioned bliss.

Categories: Croatia, Tours

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WIWT: Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace, London

The Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace is something that I've always associated with London, and is something that I never tire of seeing!

Roll on Croatia!

2 more sleeps till I fly out to Croatia! I'm doing an 8-day tour with Explore that starts in Dubrovnik, heads up to Split and then high into the hills to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

We'll then come back down the coast to Petracane, Zadar and Trogir, before heading back to Split.

I'm doing the tour represented by the red line on the map, although I have to say, it was a pretty tough choice between the inland tour and the cruise tour off the Dalmation Coast.

It will be my first visit to Croatia. I've heard that it was hitting temps of 40C last week...pretty warm in anyone's book. I'm really looking forward to exploring the walled city of Dubrovnik, checking out the cellars in the Diocletian's Palace, and pigging out on what is meant to be fantastic seafood!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

WIWT: Poignant Pics

This is definitely not a case of "Wish I Was There" (WIWT), but I took this photo in New York at one of the many tribute sites to the victims of September 11. Given the 1-year anniversary last week of the London bombings, and yesterday's terrorist attrocities in Mumbai, it seemed fitting to post a somewhat more poignant pic.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Visited Countries - create your own virtual maps!

A work colleague and fellow blogger, Daniela Barbosa, posted a cool resource that she'd found from another colleage - Visited Countries. You just need to click onto the list of countries you've visited, and it creates a map on fly.

Ok, there are slight limitations, in that if you click that you've been to the US, it shades the entire countrry, but it's a fab thing to play with, and has once again reminded me little I've really seen of the world.

Here's my Visited Countries map so far...South America and Africa, here I come!

The thing about Gibraltar pounds...

On the subject of Gibraltar (having visited there in April this year), I discovered that although British Pounds and Gibraltan Pounds may be completely interchangeable at an exchange rate of 1:1 in Gibraltar, they are not interchangeable back in Britain! That is, Gibraltan Pounds are not accepted as currency in Britain (as Scottish Pounds are), and it's bloody difficult to exchange them.

To date, I've tried changing my small stash of Gibraltan pounds at Citibank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Post Office, to no avail. They look at me as I've asked to exchange Mickey Mouse Money. So it's off to a Bureau de Change (where I'll no doubt be hit with a commission) - or back to Gibraltar (my preferred option). tip for the uninitiated - change any Gibraltan Pound notes back to British Pound notes before leaving Gibraltar. It makes no difference to them and you won't get stuck with a bunch of notes that, as one colleague remarked, make the Queen look like she's in drag.

WIWT: Going ape in Gibraltar

Gibraltar's famous Barbary Apes scamper over the upper reaches of the massive Rock of Gibraltar. Legend has it that should the apes ever disappear, the British will leave Gibraltar. It's worth spending a couple of days in this extremely British outpost, although you'll get a better meal over the Spanish border (you have to cross Gibraltar airport's runway to get there!) at La Linea.