The Balkans, Greece, Turkey then Serbia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Doogle, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    This trip has been put off too long because of Covid. It may not be the ideal time to go, but I'm not getting any younger. My very rough plan for a route is: Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo (if the rental company removes that restriction), Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and back to Croatia. I fly out September 13 and return October 20-probably. The motorcycle I thought I was renting fell through yesterday. I couldn't wire transfer my payment to a place with no street address. Modern banking? I'm not ready for it. But with only 4 days till I leave, I found another rental that accepts credit cards. The bike I'm renting is the exact bike I wanted for this trip. It's a 2016 V-Strom 650 with top and side cases.

    I waited as long as I could to see if Americans were going to be allowed to travel these countries. A few riders had been locked into countries with Covid lockdowns and had to stay for months. That could be annoying when paying for for a rental bike. Previously I saved flight info incase the Covid situation eased. Round trip flights to Zagreb, Croatia were around $950. For 1 day the price dropped to $524, and I took it without a bike rented. Yesterday it was up to $1800. Flights can be tricky and require checking before you get to the airport. Since I'm double vaccinated I am permitted at the places I touch ground. I hope it doesn't change in the next 3 days. Returning to the USA I will need to get a PCR test before getting on the plane. It needs to be done within 72 hours of departure. The Atrium Hospital told me their results take 36-72 hours. It might be expired before getting to the airport. I'll need to find a test site before I get to the airport for my return.

    The 10 countries I hope to travel in will use 8 different currencies. That can be an expensive hassle. When I travelled through Mongolia I left with $180 worth of tugriks. Nobody will exchange that currency. Nobody.
    I will post on this Ride Report daily if I can get internet. And if the pictures aren't good, you know, it's my cameras fault.
    #1
  2. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

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    Following!
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  3. EZ-D

    EZ-D Davidprej Supporter

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    Perfect! I'm hoping to do a similar ride from May to July 2022. I'd appreciate info on your rental bike as I was thinking of shipping my '16 Vstrom 650 (coincidence right?) thinking it'd be too expensive to rent.

    I'll be sailing out of Croatia in May then riding and then hiking the Tour de Mont Blanc mid July - https://www.tour-du-montblanc.com/

    Will be following!
    #3
  4. NSFW

    NSFW Death Valley Noobs Rally 2022 Super Supporter

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    have fun and keep us posted.

    hopefully, i see you down along the Adriatic coast.
    #4
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  5. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    I will probably be posting mostly the same information and pictures on AdvRider and Facebook. On the AdvRider I post some details:hotels, prices, mileages, that may help others thinking about traveling the same areas. I use that forum to help plan my trips, so it's a pay back.

    Our pickleball 24+ hour marathon was a good warm up for this lift off till touchdown-16 hours. I did manage 3 hours of sleep on the Transatlantic flight. With little sleep and 6 hour time difference here, tomorrow might be a sluggish day.

    Well I got to my room about 5 pm. Then an hour wait because the entry code wasn't specific enough. I wanted to go to sleep, but always too curious to see a new place. I'm in downtown Zagreb, Croatia, population of 750,000. Riding in from the airport, I told the cab driver it looked like a very clean city. Walking around this evening adds to my belief. It's clean, comfortable, and seems safe enough that I wouldn't mind my granddaughter walking around here at night alone.

    I didn't go too far from my room because I have a tendency to see more than I want. Translated=I get lost. I saw a Catholic church (Zagreb Cathedral) that is being restored finally-1880 earthquake. I think the Pope visit may have influenced it. Then I found a long tunnel. Gric Tunnel was a shelter during WWII and the 1990's Croatian war. Facebook please fact check for me like you do everything else. Anyway I'm sitting here drinking my favorite new dinner, Karlovacko .5 liters and watching happy people enjoy this city. There are soooo many places that have had wars and people say "Don't go there Doug", and they are great places. I had an offer to go to N. Korea a few years ago while in China. Okay, I pass on some interesting places.

    When I went to pay my bill, I talked to the cook who sent 3 bread balls to my outside table. Supper. My server said only drinks were allowed. He must have bent the cooks arm a little. I tried to buy him and my server a drink since they had no way to include a tip on the receipt. Didn't work. The bartender kept sending beer and shots to our table. When I left they wouldn't let me pay.


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    #5
  6. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    Pula, Croatia Jela Apartment $57 193 miles

    Last night when I returned from my evening on the town, I started to do my Facebook report. There was a password issue and I couldn't post.I fell asleep and woke up at 7:00. I didn't know if it was am or pm. Luckily it was still am. My bike was delivered at 10 am. Great talking with the rental guy. So about 10:30 I started off for Pula, Croatia with perfect weather. I didn't realize I got on to a toll road. I haven't converted any money to Kuna's yet. I tried at a couple ATM's on the toll road, but no success. When I finally got to a toll both, they did take credit cards.

    I was very tired all day. Too little sleep on the flight from Ohio and possible 1 more drink than I needed last night. I was trying to find a room in town first. But I saw the Pula Amphitheater/Arena first. So I parked the bike and went in. I think it was about $11. It's the 6th largest existing Roman Amphitheater. It was built in the 1st century and held about 20,000 people. After leaving there I walked to a McDonalds to get WIFI and book a room for the night. The room is another apartment. It is excellent and has over 550 square feet. Once here I took a shower and simultaneously did 2 days worth of laundry. Don't ask. Then it was time to organize my belongings in the bike storage compartments. When I got the bike, I just stuffed things where I could. Tonight I organize. Tomorrow I go to, oh I haven't looked into that yet. I think it's probably Bosnia.

    2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (10).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (9).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (7).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (8).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (6).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (5).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (4).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (3).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (2).jpg 2021-09-15 Pula Arena  (1).jpg
    2021-09-15 Pula Apartment Jela .jpg

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    #6
  7. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9/16/21 Bihac, Bosnia Hotel Pavijon $36 228 miles

    My room last night was great.But I wss too tired to sleep. Finally after 2:30 am. I got up at 8:00 and packed up. I attached my tank bag and another Ram Mount to hold my waterproof phone case. I back tracked a lot of yesterdays ride. Near the coast, Croatia has almost as many tinnels as Switzerland. The first 10 minutes of my ride were pleasant. Then it rained until the last 15 minutes of the day.The border crossing into Bosnia was easier than going into Canada.The 2 country's immigration checks are about 100 feet apart. Didn't need to get off of the bike. The ride in Bosnia would have been better if dry. It was all twists and turns. I don't think I avaeraged 40 mph. My plan was to go to Una National Park. It's about 20 miles past the Bihac hotel I'm staying at. But falling asleep at the handlebars was trying to get in to my plans.

    While looking for a hotel, I saw a white area up on a hill.I rode through an area of trees and up a hill. It was a cemetery. So many from the early 1990's.


    2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (1).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (2).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (3).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (4).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (5).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (6).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (7).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (8).jpg 2021-09-16 Bihac, Bosnia  (9).jpg

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    #7
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  8. Cyclenaut

    Cyclenaut Been here awhile

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    Great report so far !
    #8
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  9. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9/17/21 At Turist Hotel 98 in Jajce,Bosnia 169 miles

    My friend Mariusz from Poland emailed me and said I should go see Željava Air Base in Croatia and Bosnia. I had to return about 20 miles from Bihac to go through the border crossing again. Built in 1968 by the Yugoslav government, it's demise began when Yugoslavia broke up. Most of the land mines around the base have been cleared out. It was built into rock walls with 3-4 entrances. There were many tunnels crossing each other. I wandered through mostly alone thinking "headlights don't fail me now." Just as I got to the entrance the rains started again. Lightening and thunder. The rain lasted until I checked in to my hotel. As I walked out to get my luggage, the rain stopped.

    After leaving the air base I went looking for the Una National Park. I was in the park, but not the area I wanted. But I saw a castle up on a hill. It was about 4 miles up a rocky, gravel, mud, grass trail. It's usually a clue when you are the only person going somewhere. I'm going anyway. The Ostrovica Castle looked interesting from way down the hill/mountain. But when I got there it seemed to only have the front wall in tact. So I went back to the bike and started to load my helmet camera to show the trail I shouldn't be riding without knobby tires. But the rain increased. I'd rather get down on 2 wheels than have a movie of me sliding off the mountain.

    I decided not to look for the water falls in Una Park, and rode on to Jajce. They have a catacombs and fortress I want to see. I found a room quickly. I unloaded and got a shower It was a wet and chilly day. The Jajce Fortress and catacombs were right across the street from me. I walked up to the Catacombs at 6:17. They closed a 6 pm. So I climbed up 6000 more steps to the Fortress. I guess they closed at 6 also. A sign down below with hours would be nice. I warned several other groups on my way down. They open at 11 tomorrow. I took a picture of a house while walking down from the Fortress. It looks like a lot of bullet hits in the front.

    About the trip so far. Very nice people. Most speak some English. Roads, not trails, are in excellent condition. Drivers are coutious. I haven't had to signal digitaly yet. The only horns I've heard are my own-the turn signal and horn button are too close for my clumbsy thumb. Housing is much better than I expected. They may have poor housing conditions somewhere. But it's not rampant like at home.I don't see the beggars either.


    2021-09-17  (1) Hotel Paviljon, Bihac, Bosnia .jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (2).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (3).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (4).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (5).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (6).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (7).jpg 2021-09-17 Ostrovica Castle, Bosnia   (8).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (1).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (3).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (4).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (5).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (6).jpg 2021-09-17 The Jajce Fortress (7).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (1).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (2).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (3).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (4).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (5).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (6).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (7).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (8).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (12).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (14).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (15).jpg
    #9
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  10. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (20).jpg Since there is a limit of 25 pictures per post, here's another post. The pictures aren't in the order I would like and I don't know if I can title each picture like in FaceBook.

    2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (16).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (17).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (18).jpg 2021-09-17 Željava Air Base, Croatia  (19).jpg
    #10
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  11. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9/18/21 At Swissotel $248-Sarajevo,Bosnia 110 miles

    I turned out the lights at 1 am last night and got up at 8:30. I reattached my tank bag and phone Ram Mount after breakfast. Then I climbed 6000 steps to the Jajce Fortress again. There was a $3 entrance fee. I guess I got my money's worth. It had great views of the city below. But after being to many large, in tact castles in England, it's somewhat disappointing. It was built in the 1300's and was home to the last King of Bosnia. I left the Fortress and walked down to the Catacombs. The ticket there didn't accept Visa or Euros. The guy looked at me and said "Go ahead." And I did. It's below ground.I walked in to a very small room. There was no floor lighting. There were several cutout areas with no identifications. Then I walked down some steps to a smaller area. I believe this is where the king was to be buried. I got what I paid for. I went to the Catacombs in Paris and it was huge. passages with skulls, then legs, ribs.

    Next I walked down the street about 5 minutes to the Pliva Falls. They looked nice......from the drone views I'd seen. Then I was off to Travnik. Nothing there that interested my anymore, so on to Sarajevo. I was routing to a Holiday Inn when I saw the Swissotel. It's like a magnet drew me there. And it drew $248 out of Gayle's account. I'm on the 18th floor with a city view. But I wanted to go see the Latin Bridge before settling in to my room. In 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were murdered crossing this bridge in an open car. This assination immediately started WWI. It was a mile walk to the Bridge. I took a few pictures and then walked through Old Town. Many small shops selling junk I might have bought 40 years ago. The day had been beautiful for riding. 68 degree high and sunny. As I walked through Old Town it started to rain. When my soaked hair started dripping in my face, I bought an umbrella. When I got back to the hotel, it stopped.

    About riding in Bosnia. Most roads are curvy and in valleys that follow meandering rivers. The last 30 miles into Sarajevo had fewer curves. I'm making a guess here. It seems the number of churches and mosques are about the same. Many buildings have doorway entrances that are mushroom shaped. I think that is common in Muslim areas. I see many cemeteries going down the road. Everywhere. I guess with older civilizations they are going to have more than we see in the USA. Tomorrow I hope to see some more things here then ride to Mostar.

    This first post has pictures of Jajce Fortress, Jajce Catacombs, and Pliva Falls:


    2021-09-18 Jajce Catacombs  (4).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Catacombs  (5).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Catacombs  (6).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (1).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (2).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (4).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (6).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (7).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (8).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (9).jpg 2021-09-18 Jajce Fortress  (10).jpg 2021-09-18 Pliva Falls, Jajce Bosnia  (1).jpg 2021-09-18 Pliva Falls, Jajce Bosnia  (2).jpg
    2021-09-18 Jajce Catacombs  (3).jpg
    #11
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  12. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    Post #2 with Sarajevo Swissotel, Latin Bridge, and Old Town.

    2021-09-18 Latin Bridge, Sarajevo  (2).jpg 2021-09-18 Latin Bridge, Sarajevo  (3).jpg 2021-09-18 Old Town, Sarajevo  (1).jpg 2021-09-18 Old Town, Sarajevo  (2).jpg 2021-09-18 Old Town, Sarajevo  (4).jpg 2021-09-18 Swissotel, Sarajevo   (1).jpg 2021-09-18 Swissotel, Sarajevo   (2).jpg 2021-09-18 Swissotel, Sarajevo   (3).jpg 2021-09-18 Swissotel, Sarajevo   (5).jpg
    #12
  13. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    Nice! N. :lurk
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  14. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer

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    Great photos, and a beautiful country. The sheer numbers of the graves, and the cluster of dates in the 1990's, is heartbreaking.
    #14
  15. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9-19-21 Alimra Hotel, Mostar $48. 125 miles
    Part #1

    After a great breakfast I rode to the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Bobsled track. It was about 5 miles away. BUT,getting out of town took a half hour. There was a marathon going on. Streets blocked and I kept getting redirected past the some cops. They tried to help me. Eventually I got to the trail. I'm not sure if it was a foot trail only, but nobody stopped me. All other people were on foot. I came here not because it was an olympic area. It was where the Serbs mortared Sarajevo from, for 4 years. I saw a lot of "Art work" on the equipment. Then I rode up a trail to what previously was an observatory. During the 1992-1995 seige of Sarajevo it was a command post for Serb mortaring.

    From there it was about 10 miles to the "Tunnel of Hope." It was a tunnel under the airport runway that people used to bring relief supplies for the city while under Serian seige. While trying to find it, I asked a man with limited English for directions. He waved me to his house across the street. Another man came out to talk with me. He said he is an American citizen and lives in Houston. This is where he grew up. He is back on vacation visiting family. He even brought his Texas plated car with him.They asked me to come back after my tunnel visit, but I said I don't have enough time for everything I want to do. The tunnel was over a 1/4 mile long. My 10 Euro ticket allowed me to go through a very, very short section of it. The rest has given way to neglect and collapse.

    2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (2).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (4).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (5).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (10).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (12).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (13).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (14).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (15).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (17).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (18).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (19).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (20).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo bobsled track (22).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (26).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (28).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (30).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (31).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (33).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (35).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (36).jpg 2021-09-19 Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope (37).jpg 2021-09-19 Get directions to Tunnel of Hope (25).jpg
    #15
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  16. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9/19/21 Part#2

    Next I rode about 45 minutes to an underground bunker. I had to wait 45 minutes for the next group allowed in. It's called Tito's Bunker. It was built to withstand a nuclear bomb the size used at Nagasaki. It was big enough for Tito and 370 of his men. I had difficulty understanding the tour guide.

    When I left the bunker, I rode to Mostar and found a room in Old Town. It's about a 2 minute walk to the Stari Most Bridge. It was built in the 1500's but destroyed in the 1990's war by Croatian gunners. It was rebuilt with mostly the same stones and reopened in 2004.

    2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (38).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (39).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (41).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (42).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (44).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (45).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (49).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (50).jpg 2021-09-19 Tito's Bunker (51).jpg 2021-09-19 Get directions to Tunnel of Hope (25).jpg 2021-09-19 Road-Sarajevo to Mostar (53).jpg 2021-09-19  (55).jpg 2021-09-19  (56).jpg 2021-09-19  (56).jpg 2021-09-19  (57).jpg 2021-09-19  (58).jpg 2021-09-19  (58).jpg 2021-09-19  (60).jpg 2021-09-19  (61).jpg 2021-09-19  (64).jpg 2021-09-19  (68).jpg
    #16
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  17. malloy

    malloy Long timer Super Supporter

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    Thank you for this great report and the fine photos, Doogle. :clap:clapTravel well.
    #17
  18. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    9-20-21 Korcula Hotel $168 Korcula Island, Croatia 117 miles

    I was on the road with great weather at 10 am. I was trying to follow new roads that were confusing my GPS maps. I crossed out of Bosnia and back into Croatia again. In Orebic I got a ferry to the island of Karcula. It is an old walled town from the early 1200's. My hotel is in the old section of town. I'm on the 1st floor. In Eurpoean terms, that means I had to climb 4 half flights of steps to get there. I came here to see the Marco Polo House. I read he was born here, or lived here. But other reading say he was born in Venice. The house has been under renovation with all work stopping for Covid the last 2 years. So it was a no go. I did eat at a restuarant looking out at the house.The Marco Polo house is the pictures before and after my meal and beer.

    In the evening I went back out to see the town under the lights. There are many yachts out my window. And there are outside tables circling the walled town with people eating and drinking wine. Perfect weather in the evening also. What a great place. There was a tower with people looking down from the top. I like high places, so I climbed up. There were steps for the first part. Then a set of steps inside. THEN, the near verticle ladder with not much to hold on to. I got to the top where all you can do is order drinks. What's a guy to do? I'm sure people have fallen down the ladder if they had more than a couple. It's rather difficult sober. I sat on the wall behind the tables. There are openings that drop down to the street or water level. Don't lean back too far. The waitress receives drinks via a rope pull on the side of the tower. Then back to my room. Great live music right outside my room. BB King is still living.


    2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (1).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (3).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (8).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (9).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (10).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (11).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (13).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (15).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (18).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (19).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (20).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (21).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (22).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (24).JPG 2021-09-20 Old Town Korcula  (25).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (1).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (2).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (4).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (5).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (7).JPG 2021-09-20 Road to Korcula  (6).JPG

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    #18
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  19. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    9/20/21 Korcula at night.

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    #19
    N-Id-Jim, River Rat, scudo and 5 others like this.
  20. Big jimmy

    Big jimmy n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2013
    Oddometer:
    6
    Subscribed.
    I’ll be following closely Doogle (literally) as I’m on the ferry from Ireland right now headed for the Balkan countries too. I’ve got some good tips already from you.
    Thanks for writing.
    #20
    N-Id-Jim and bjor1978 like this.