Thursday, October 11, 2012

Balkans... Part 2

It's been nearly a month since I left the Balkans and have settled back into my "Italian life" in Tuscany. The second half of my Balkan trip was brilliant and beautiful in ways I never imagined. Here are a "few" photos for you to enjoy as I tried to capture the essence of the Balkans along the Adriatic coast. 

Sunset in Saranda, Albania

Shkodra, Albania. This town in the north is right on a huge lake and borders Montenegro. I took a bike ride to the gypsy part of town.

I stayed at a guest house in Shkodra to experience some authentic Albania cuisine and culture

And it was beautiful and delicious. This is the entry walk way to this family-run guest house, covered in 45 year old grape vines. 

The most flavorful and deeply colored fig I have ever seen.

View of the Albanian Alps from the guest house vineyard in Shkodra. 


Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. I took this photo from the bus window (sorry for the lack of clarity). This island is now one huge luxury resort. 

Grilled squid in Kotor Bay

The city of Kotor was beautiful! The walkways, old buildings and piazzas were absolutely photo worthy! I could not stop taking pictures here!!

Entry way to hike up the old fortress walls of Kotor

Piazza in Kotor

Tourists... lots of them between 10am-4pm as the cruise ships dock for the day and let everyone off to visit the town

Old fortress walls of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor at sunrise as I hiked the old walls

Beautiful Bay of Kotor (Europe's southernmost "fjord") and the Montenegrin flag

This bay is stunning

Met some new friends and took a paddle boat ride in the bay

Islands of Perast

Town of Perast

View of the Bay of Kotor from Perast

Peaceful afternoon

Beautiful Perast building

View of lakes near Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

The Tara Canyon - Durmitor National Park

Tara Canyon Bridge

Loved this water in the Tara Canyon- it was so crystal clear, blue and beautiful!

We even found another Shopska Salad! This is my 10th. And it had the PERFECT Balkan cheese on top!! WOOHOO!!

Black Lake, Durmitor National Park

This was a small road that we took from Durmitor to the eastern side of the country- narrow and some of the most beautiful scenery I have every seen. Of course difficult to capture in photos here, but just amazing! A white-knuckle ride, but glad I was just a passenger.

Spectacular sunset views! 

Thank you Montenegro... I will be back. 


Jumping from the rocks outside the city walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Loved this afternoon of jumping off the rocks outside the Buza Bar. The Adriatic was the perfect cool temperature and a beautiful blue color (but a bit cloudy for this particular photo)

Sunset looking toward Lapad Island, Dubrovnik

Met up with my cousins for dinner one night in Dubrovnik! What a treat! 

View of Dubrovnik from the Lokrum Island

Fountain in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Piazza at night

Dubrovnik in early morning

Croatian flag

Beautiful Dubrovnik from the city walls

Walking along the city walls of Dubrovnik

The colors of Dubrovnik were brilliant

Terra cotta roofs of Dubrovnik reminiscent of Italy

Glad I got up early to walk the walls while it was still "cool" 

Enjoying the view of the city


First views of agricultural richness of Bosnia (from the bus)

Typical Bosnian cuisine- Cevapi and Somun (Bosnian meat balls and pita)

The wounds of the war from the mid 1990's are still visible in Mostar. 

You can feel the wounds as much as you can see them

Mostar cafe scene

Famous bridge of Mostar. This was destroyed in the war and rebuilt, opened in 2004. Each year professional divers jump from the highest point, approximately 25 meters tall.

Typical scene of old town Mostar- lots of Turkish influence!

Mostar, Bosnia

One last view of the bridge of Mostar

Burek- a delicious Bosnian (and Balkan) savory pastry filled with meat and onions. Not exactly low calorie, but absolutely delicious and very filling!


Bosnian Pride!

River in Sarajevo. It is red because of the heavy rains washing in all the mud. 

"Pigeon  Square" in Sarajevo

More Turkish shops!

Sephardic Jewish Temple, Sarajevo

Streets of Sarajevo. They have rebuilt this city amazingly fast and well- it has a very vibrant cafe and bar scene and is lovely to walk around. 

Bosnian women

Emperor's Mosque, Sarajevo. The muslim and Turkish influence was very prevalent in this country.

Cemetery at Emperor's Mosque.

Tunnel of Life. This was a 800 meter long (by 1 meter wide) tunnel built under the airport in Sarajevo. It was the only way to get food and supplies in and out of the city during the war.

Roses of Sarajevo. 
These areas of destruction were filled in with hard red material to create a beautiful image despite the sadness and loss that originated at these spots. 

At the Sarajevska Pivara Brewery in Sarajevo. Delicious beer and wonderful food!

Jajce, Bosnia. The town is built literally over a waterfall

Jajce, Bosnia


Boardwalk in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. 

This natural wonder is miles long and is absolutely stunning

A walker's paradise- with boardwalks throughout the park, you can "walk on water" for kilometers!

Water flows down, creating new channels between trees, over rocks, etc. 

Plitvice waterfalls

Beautiful views around every corner

The water really is THIS BLUE and clear!

Walking UP a waterfall

If you ever have the chance to visit Plitvice, you will be happy you did! They have the walking routes mapped out for every ability and amount of time you have to spend (from 3 hours to 8 hours)!

Dock in Zadar, Croatia

Zadar, Croatia. Looks like a little piece of Italian heaven! Just across the Adriatic sea!

Zadar is known for it's white marble streets


Adriatic Sea 

Sea Organ, Zadar. This is a set of pipes built into the wall along the sea and as the waves lap up against the wall and enter the pipes, it creates beautiful music. This is apparently the only one in the world!

My favorite spot in Zadar is at this Sea Organ. I sat here for nearly 4 hours at sunset, just listening to the sea music and enjoying the beauty of the ocean. 

The Sea Organ is a popular locals spot to gather at sunset as well

Ferry heading to Italy

Next to the Sea Organ is this solar powered light show!

 My last sunset in the Balkans! Sad to leave but happy to return to Italy.

Sunrise from the ferry as we entered Ancona, Italy.