Last Days in Croatia, and into Venice

We decided to hire a boat and sail around the little islands we can see from the coast and swim in places that aren’t full of other tourists. Family remembered our holiday in Malta, where they composed a song entitled “A Speedboat Driven by an Accountant”, so Husband decided to hire a boat with a skipper.

Had a brilliant day. The skipper (I never asked his name – isn’t that terrible) was a sports teacher during term time, and he kindly took us on a little tour. He told us that his grandfather has lived in the same small village his whole life, and has lived in six different countries : Austro-Hungary, Italy, Germany (under occupation), AngloAmerican, Yugoslavia and now Croatia. That is weird.

We stopped to swim a couple of times. All the water seems to be full of the ‘walnut sea jelly’ – a clear non-stinging jellyfish, but you get used to them after a while. The water is beautifully clear, and fish flash away as you swim. People who can dive (not me) dived from the side of the boat, and the skipper drove with enough speed for Husband’s hat to fly off (which was very funny. I never liked that hat.)

I felt inspired to write a short story when we got back (though not sure if this counts as ‘work’ – which I always give Husband a hard time about when we’re on holiday.)

 We spent the afternoon lazing around, then walked into Rovinj for espressos and ice creams. We looked around the market, and I saw lots of wonderful things to buy that I would never be able to transport home. I bought some lavender cushions – one for me, one for Mum. Not actually sure how I’ll transport them either, as my case was full to bursting on the way here.

Dinner at Tipico, Old Town again.

Last Day

The last day of a holiday is always a bit sad. Family hired kayaks.

Ate dinner at Tutto Bene (ViaE de Amicis 16). They don’t have vegetarian options on the menu, but will cook them if you ask. Lovely table outside, friendly waiter, nice food. Though I was too warm to properly enjoy it (I think my seat was next to the kitchen window.)

We packed. Early start tomorrow to try and avoid delays at the border.

Drive to Venice

We left Lone Hotel at 5am. The night manager looked nothing like Tom Hiddleston (shame) but he did give us all a packed lunch, as we would be missing breakfast. Isn’t that nice? I’ve never been offered that before when we’ve had to check-out early. It has been a really good hotel, with lots going on and good facilities.

The border crossing was fine, no queues at all (unlike the 4 hour ones we saw later in the day when arriving.)

We drove to Italy and stopped at a service station. Not a good experience. We arrived the same time as several coaches, so the lines were horrendous.

Arrived at The Marriot Hotel, Venice about 9:30 am. The hotel is fairly near the airport (you could walk there if you don’t mind the heat) and there’s a bus into the city – €3 return ticket.

Venice is beautiful, you have to visit. So much to see and photograph. It was also horribly crowded. We stayed here about 10 years ago, and I don’t remember it being crowded at all (except for St Mark’s Square, which is always busy.) Not sure if we were just unlucky, or if the number of tourists has become a problem. It was possible to find alleyways that were less busy, but they were a long way from the main attractions. I will leave you with some photos – all you need to do in Venice is take photos and find a pretty cafe for lunch. Oh, and buy a mask of course…..

Thank you for reading. It has been a fabulous holiday, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it. Always a shame to go back to real life, especially as the family all go back to their own homes and jobs.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

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You can read the story I wrote after the boat trip here:
https://anneethompson.com/short-stories/other-stories/rainbows-in-the-spray-a-story-written-in-croatia/

Croatian Holiday Diary Continued…

Family holiday in Lone Hotel, Rovinj, continues at a relaxed pace. Each morning Husband greets the girl at the desk with a new phrase he has learnt in Croatian. She has real fear in her eyes when she sees us approach, but he feels he is making progress and learning the local language – despite no one understanding him. Ever. The best word to learn is thank you – which sounds like “Farla”. Today the girl at the desk replied, and said something which sounds like “Ooga dan dan” We think it means: “Have a nice day.” Husband plans to practise on various shop assistants.

 Last few nights we have eaten at Tipico Old Town, a cosy restaurant with an open kitchen, so we can watch them cook while we eat. They offer a couple of vegetarian options (and I recommend the stuffed courgettes!)

 

 

 

 

We hired bikes and cycled along the coast. There’s a gravel path, so it was hard going in places, but the views are fabulous. Lots of coves with local people swimming, and the cliff tops are a huge park, with trees and paths. There are climbers on the cliffs, boats on the sea, tiny islands, sunshine, pine trees…..lovely.

Drove to Restaurant Maslima for lunch. Sat under olive trees. Lots of mosquitoes in Croatia, so bring repellent. The pizzas were huge – I had a ‘mini’ one, which was normal sized, the others had ‘normal’ ones which were very large, and J chose a ‘jumbo’ one, which was the size of a table.

Menu also offered some nice looking drinks. Some were lavender flavoured – there are lots of lavender products here.  I chose a lemon and ginger one.

The picture in the menu looked lovely, and it was described as being Dalmatian lemon juice with fresh ginger……

 

What actually arrived was a glass of tap water and a sachet of flavoured syrup. Disappointing…

Decided to walk to a bay to swim. We walked a long way (all the bays were quite crowded). Found a nice empty spot and settled onto the rocks, then noticed the sea was FULL of jellyfish. Tiny transparent globs of jelly. Didn’t swim, went back to hotel pool.

I later learned these jellyfish are also called “walnut sea jellies”. They are native to America, and often transported via ship ballast. They reproduce rapidly, and cause huge problems to ecosystems as they eat plankton, which upsets the food chain for bigger fish. Big problem for fishing based industries. However, they do not sting, so later we swam quite happily in water infested with them. It’s a little odd swimming with jelly, but not harmful.

Had a day in Pula. Huge Roman amphitheatre, which is very hot in the midday sun (just thought I’d mention that). There are some interesting chambers underground, where you can imagine the prisoners and animals being kept. There were also lots of pots. Not sure why lots of pots are interesting, but they seem to be a feature of Roman monuments.

Husband wears a hat we are all very rude about. Pula had a whole family, all dressed the same, all wearing same hats. Perhaps they get lost a lot and it makes it easy to identify them. We sent husband over to join them.

Pula also has Hercules Arch, which I was keen to see. Family led me to a variety of arches. The one I think actually IS Hercules Arch appears to be incorporated into a modern apartment complex.


Tried to have coffee and cocktails in a pretty square. Managed to have beers and nasty wine in a mosquito infested alley. Husband wished them “Ooga dan dan,” when we left. They looked confused.

Ate in Sareni Papar restaurant. This was great, if slow. Lovely stuffed peppers, served straight from the oven in a boiling hot baking dish. (Stuffed veg are, apparently, a feature of Croatian food.) Husband said “Ooga dan dan” to friendly waitress. She looked worried. Blokes drank 1L glasses of beer, sang all the way home (surprisingly tuneful) and then happily walked to the wrong hotel. A nice day.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

PS. We later learned ‘Ooga dan dan’ does NOT mean ‘have a nice day’, it means something like ‘on, and on, every day.’ Explains why no one understood Husband, though I guess he gets credit for trying.

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anneethompson.com

xxx

 

Croatia – Family Holiday Diary

Met 9am for breakfast (if you missed my last blog, we’re staying in Lone Hotel, Rovinj). A young girl waited at the entrance to take room numbers, and Husband had used Google Translate so he could say “Good morning, room 463” in Croatian. Croatian with a strong English accent. She looked very confused. I apologised for him, and ushered him to a table.

Breakfast was another buffet – a huge selection in a gigantic room. But some food seemed a little ‘old’ – perhaps because we were fairly late getting there. Lots of food to keep our vegetarians fed though (which has been quite a challenge this holiday). There was also a very low table, at child height, full of cakes and pastries. A small boy was happily stroking everything. Clearly a nice idea, planned by someone who is not a parent.

Walked into Rovinj (15 minutes along the coast). Lovely town – old buildings scattered on a hill, stretching out to sea. It felt like an Italian town, and Son-who-knows-stuff told me that it was originally built by the same people who built Venice, hence the similarity. I loved it. It was full of tourist shops and cafes, but all around were signs of real life – washing strung high above the street, craftsmen working, fishermen. It has more of a soul than Ljubljana had.

   

Took bread and cheese back to the hotel and ate in the lobby bar. They have shiny black tables, and provide white marker pens, so you can doodle while you sit. Young children had drawn pictures, some people had written rhymes. My family wrote mathematical formulas (how sad is that?)

Everyone did their own thing for the afternoon. I ventured down to beach, and sunbathing daughter agreed to swim with me. Very stony beach, hurt feet. There was a lifeguard’s chair, but the only person near it was in a wheelchair, so I didn’t swim out too far. All the guests have been provided with room key cards and a towel card – so you can collect swimming towels when you need them. Both cards look very similar, which is causing some people problems. D, M, H, and J played Castles of Burgundy (a board game, so worth avoiding). R told me it’s French and they had to Google-translate the instructions. But that might have been a lie.

Walked to MaliRaj restaurant in Rovinj. It was down a narrow cobbled street, and someone had put tiny candles in the wall crevasses – very romantic. The streets are cobbled, and very slippery (I assume worn smooth by thousands of feet, but it is possible a grumpy old women sneaks out every night and polishes them, hoping to make tourists fall over.) The streets are also steep and uneven, so leave your heels at home.

Mali Raj is a fish restaurant – real, fresh, head-attached, caught this morning, fish. Some of my family have only ever eaten filleted fish before, so I could be a mummy again and show them how to remove fish bones – rather nice to be a mummy again, it doesn’t happen very often these days, usually it is them explaining things to me. Fifteen minutes into the meal, M announced he’d managed his first mouthful and it was very tasty! Dessert was pancakes with ice cream and sour cherries. Delicious. I popped to use the loo and peeked into the kitchen. Grandma was sitting on a huge chair, and they were passing her things to dry up. I like this place. At the end of the meal, they gave us grappa shots. Pretty foul.

Walked back through crowded streets full of music, dancing in the square, street artists.

Hotel Lone has lots of activities you can book. Tomorrow people plan to cycle, or kayak, or go to the gym. I might just sleep and read and eat ice creams.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

If you want to read the next instalment of my holiday diary, why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

xxx

So, what do you think the world will look like in about 100 years from now? Will we have sorted the threat of religious terrorism? Will there still be poverty and famine in the world? And if technology has evolved, and we have driverless cars and bots doing all the manual labour, what will have happened to people’s jobs?

Counting Stars tells a story in one such world. I spoke to various people – scientists, economists, (even a toilet roll manufacturer!) and I asked : What will the world look like in a hundred years time? I then created that world. My rule was that everything had to be possible, even if it wasn’t probable. Then I wrote about a family, because whatever the future looks like, people will be the same. Adolescents will still be ignoring their mothers, and wives will still be moaning about their husbands.

Counting Stars has been described as “an intelligent thriller”. It will make you think. I hope you enjoy it.

Counting Stars by Anne E Thompson. Available from Amazon. The UK link is below. Thank you for reading. Ax

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_24?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=counting+stars+by+anne+e+thompson&sprefix=counting+stars+by+anne+e%2Caps%2C163&crid=1JGHX003E5O5L

xxx

The Drive to Croatia – Family Holiday Diary

Checked out of hotel in Ljubljana and drove south.

Stopped at Predjama Castle in Slovenia – a fortress built into a rock. Parking was an adventure (car parks in Slovenia rather more casual than in Austria). We paid (I chose to not look at price because Husband had decided we were going in anyway – due to the whole male/castle/compulsory visit gene, which females don’t inherit.)

However, having moaned about the castle in Ljubljana, I have to admit, this one was really interesting. They gave us portable recorded guides, which were brilliant as you could skip ahead to the bits that were interesting (like the torture chamber, and the secret tunnels through the rocks which meant that when the castle was under siege, they could sneak out to top up their food). All the boring bits could be skipped. The castle was not a happy place, but they have turned it into an interesting museum, with several rooms furnished, and it is well worth visiting. If you happen to be in Slovenia.

We didn’t buy sandwiches at the castle (a mistake) and decided to stop for food during the journey. Big row (which only families can have) about whether to go to a MacDonald’s in Croatia, or stop for food sooner. Nearly stopped at a supermarket, but this was strongly vetoed by J who objected to eating food bought from a shop with broken windows. I just love my family sometimes. We ate at a McDonalds in Croatia.

The border crossing had queues, but we were waved through with our EU passports (not sure what will happen when Brexit has happened). As we drove away, we saw miles and miles of stationary cars waiting to cross the border OUT of Croatia. Decided we would leave very early next week.

Croatia reminds me of Turkey. Lots of dusty agriculture.

We’re staying at Lone Hotel in Rovinj. It’s a contemporary hotel, with lots of art that I don’t quite understand. Family seem happy, though somewhat perturbed by glass wall in bathrooms. Husband, who knew about these in advance, had brought rolls of brown paper and Blutac (we have a mix of family and friends in various rooms). Family strangely unimpressed by his forward planning (especially J, who had been persuaded to carry it through three countries).

   

Dinner was in hotel restaurant. Very trendy, and very lacking in actual food. My “steamed tuna and avocado” was seared (raw) tuna with shavings of avocado. Tasty lemon and ginger sauce, but not exactly filling. Boys have offered to find future eating places for rest of holiday.

Family went to explore hotel’s night club (am sure they were pleased Husband decided to go with them). I went to bed. There’s a thunder storm, so watched lightning across the sea for a while. Tomorrow we’ll explore Rovinj.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

If you want to read further instalments from my holiday diary, why not sign up to follow my blog?
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xxx

Ljubljana, Slovenia – Family Holiday Diary

 

 

I didn’t go to the gym today. Breakfast was in a huge room – busy, but a good selection of food. It was very different to the Austrian buffet (for example, there they had slices of melon and a fruit salad; Slovenia offered whole peaches and apricots and plums, which you peeled and cut yourself.) Coffee was rough. The whole hotel has a different feel. It has a sort of faded prettiness, but it somehow feels less ‘classy’ less ‘safe’, than Austria. I like it, but feel more cautious.

Family made a plan for the morning. We wanted to see the Dragon Bridge, the Cobblers Bridge, a church, and a market. So Husband decided we would go to the castle. (Not complaining, just saying….) Actually, to be fair, the walk to the castle did include all the other stuff. The Dragon Bridge is from the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. The market doesn’t sell cushion covers, but has the biggest tomatoes ever. It also has a ghost, which only very good people can see, who watches over the market square.

   

The way up to the castle was by funicular. You can either queue for 15 minutes to buy the tickets, and then queue again for a further twenty minutes for the next funicular to arrive, OR one person can queue for tickets while everyone else queues for the next car. Hence avoiding time standing in hot sun. But stroppy Slovenian women who didn’t think of doing that hiss at you.

The castle is boring. Most castles are boring (but males have a strange need to visit them, in the same way as they HAVE to climb towers.) This particular castle was also very full of tourists. (It was probably nicer under communist rule – if somewhat less friendly.) The castle used to be a prison. Some cells had a window, and the best views of the city. Other cells did not. I don’t think I would’ve survived 10 years in a stuffy stone box. If you do visit, then the water costs less in the gift shop than from the ice cream lady in the courtyard. The walk down from the castle is along a slippery gravel path. It has good views, but you can’t look at them or you’ll trip over a root and plummet to your death. Probably.

 

We ate lunch in a BackWerk, which is a sort of ethnic Costa where you make your own coffee from a machine (but it has nice sandwiches). It’s too hot for food really.

We walked to Tivoli Park via a couple of churches and an ice cream cafe. The churches had a lot of gilt, the ice creams were nice. Saw the Parliament building, which is a boring square building, but has interesting sculpted figures around the door. They represent the Socialist ideal, of everyone striving together.

The park, when we had slogged there through the afternoon heat, was not worth visiting, I thought. But perhaps I was just too hot.

Ljubljana is pretty, it reminds me of Bruges. It is nice to visit for a day, but it felt weirdly insubstantial. If you took away the cafes and chocolate shops, I’m not sure what would be left. I never managed to see the ‘real’ part of Slovenia.

Dinner was at Julija (Stari trg 9). Jovial waiter and nice food, followed by blackberry liquor shots.

Tomorrow we drive further south, and to Croatia.

Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

Why not follow my blog? anneethompson.com

xxx

The Drive to Slovenia

I got up early and went to the gym before breakfast. Had red face for rest of the morning and felt slightly dizzy. Pretty sure exercise is unhealthy. Breakfast good again – we’ve had a nice time here (Sheraton Salzburg) it’s a shame to leave.

Drove south. Left main road and went through Alpine National Park. Worried that we hadn’t paid (you have to buy a vignette and stick it on your windscreen) and that we might be fined. But there was nowhere obvious to buy one. Then we arrived at the official entrance to the park, and actually it would be impossible to NOT pay, so that was an unnecessary panic.

Stunningly beautiful views in every direction. I want to live in Austria – they even like dogs, so Kia could come.

Followed mountain road to a glacier. Saw a marmot (looked like a groundhog). Lots of cows with bells, sheep, motorbikes and – surprisingly – cyclists. Not quite sure why anyone would cycle up a mountain by choice, but there are some weird people in the world. The road led to a huge car park, with toilets and cafes. It felt rather like a seedy service station on a motorway. However, it was functional, it allowed everyone to park and enjoy the views. Some people were walking to the glacier – not sure if they could actually walk on it; but they looked tiny from the car park, so I’m guessing it would be a whole day’s outing, and we were on the way to Ljubjana so didn’t have time. Perhaps when we live here ….(need to start persuading Husband).

 

R perturbed by lack of lunch. Found a supermarket at 3pm and bought bread and cheese.

Arrived at Grand Hotel Union (yes, that is the correct order of words) in Ljubljana. (This is pronounced libby-ana. But Husband insisted on calling it Lubbily-Jubbily, and now it is REALLY hard not to. Which will be embarrassing when I’m telling friends about the holiday.)

  Hotel is in the old town, which is lovely. Weather hot. People speak good English (which is lucky, as we are having trouble with even the name of the city!)

We wandered around looking for somewhere to eat. Husband tired after 8 hours of driving. Ate in an over-priced cafe in a square and watched the world go by. Lots of young people. Old part of the city is pretty, and full of bars and cafes and street artists. There are famous bridges, interesting statues and lots of people. For a city I had never even heard of, it is surprisingly well-known amongst tourists. Will explore tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Love, Anne x

On Friday I will tell you what we see in Ljubljana – why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

xxx

Fuschlsee, near Salzburg – Family Holiday Diary

Day Three – Fuschlsee near Salzburg

Breakfast 9 am. Managed to sit inside today. Sheraton provides a good selection for breakfast – and S selects most of it. Today he poured chocolate powder over his eggs by mistake (same wrapper as mustard). We, of course, never mentioned it again, because we’re a tactful, understanding, family. R had a boiled egg, which wasn’t. J spent 3 hours cooking a waffle (had to restrain Husband so he didn’t go to “help” him.) But we didn’t break the coffee machine today.

Choices for activities today were: walking, rowing, golf, cycling, swimming. We, of course, had a voting system (20 votes per person) and made an Excel spreadsheet. Sometimes I wonder how I came to be part of this family. Anyway, rowing won.

Hired two boats (€10 per hour) and set off across Fuschl Lake. Made it to a jetty with a fish restaurant and had drinks. Had to walk across a scary floating jetty and down a plank of wood. I don’t generally do well with activities that involve balance. Used washroom – all public conveniences in Austria seem to cost 50 cents. Rowed back. It is harder than you might think to row in a straight line.

Family played golf (not me). Then we met for hideously expensive drinks in pretty hotel bar.

Had trouble booking anywhere for dinner, as it’s Assumption Day and everywhere is closed (would’ve been nice if hotel had warned us). Ate in The Grill at hotel. Nice food, very friendly waiter.

Day Four

Nice breakfast again. M and H swam before breakfast. ( M has clearly been abducted by aliens who are now impersonating him, but I rather like having a son who gets up before midday, so I don’t mind.) Drove to St Wolfgang and caught tourist train up mountain. Tickets so expensive Husband wouldn’t tell me the price.

Mountain very cold at the top. R wearing summer dress and sandals – interesting decision. We covered her in Husband’s hideous cagoule. Brilliant views, though one side was covered by cloud. The peak looked like a film set for a Nazi film, with a wooden house with flags for secret planning meetings.

 

Drove to Bad Ischl to a coffee house recommended by Trip Advisor. (When in Austria, you HAVE to visit a beer garden, a coffee house, and run across an Alpine meadow singing words from The Sound of Music. It’s the law.) Really nice coffee, really grumpy waiter. We wanted lunch, and when we asked if the menu had any vegetarian options, he told us to go to the cafe up the road! Used the washroom, which had a strangely placed mirror – I could not see any purpose for it, do people check their make-up while sitting on the loo? Very nice coffee though….

 

Saw some red phone boxes. One was filled with bookshelves, and was a ‘book-swap’ place. Nice idea.

It’s our last day in Austria, so I bought a cushion cover for my collection. Tomorrow we drive to Slovenia. Now, I just need to find a meadow to run across……

Thank you for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

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