I love spring. That’s when I’m in love with the world. Alright, I know, it rains every weekend, and it’s sunny during weekdays, but…..still. I love it. Sunsets are the most beautiful in springtime. All the colors splashing across the sky, lighting it up. Everything turns green, becomes fragrant, causes allergies. Spring is the most inspiring time to travel, although it’s a bet against the rain, who’s got the highest card. People smile more, sidewalk cafes open, streets come alive. Don’t get me wrong, for me any season is ideal for travelling…freezing cold or 50 degrees, but spring is my favorite.
Thanks dear Jelena for the picture.
Easter holiday I spent on Zlatibor and travelling around that area. You can learn more at the following link. For the 1st of May, we decided to try something new and a little bit wild. We had some general plans what to do next, but nothing specific. We would decide as we go along, it was agreed.
Rafting on Tara – Highlander team
We decided to go rafting. They say the best time to do it is in May because the water is particularly “wild”. A lot of rapids, a lot of cold water and constant paddling. Hooray! Let’s go!
We found affordable coupons for Highlander camp. This included two nights, rafting and, of course, equipment. We paid extra for food and drinks. From Belgrade to Foca takes more than 5 and a half hours by car. The road to Bastasi, where the camp is located, is questionable since part of the road from Foca to the camp is under construction, and when you’re driving late at night, it can be a bit strenuous. From Visegrad to Foca there are 26 tunnels, I counted. I believe that eventually this information will come in handy 🙂
The five of us settled in a camp house. We somehow managed to get warm, because it was very cold, both outside, as well as inside.
The next day, the first thing we see is the beautiful color of the Drina river. The entire camp is well organized, with a central house where you can eat, warm up by the camp fire, play cards, enjoy excellent live music in the evening.
We have breakfast, take the equipment, and try to squeeze into neoprene wetsuits and boots, we put on windbreaker jackets, with long sleeves and safety vests. Helmets are mandatory for this time of year when the river is very fast. I’m wearing two suits, one with shorter sleeves, the other with shorter pantlegs, and I feel like a doughnut.
We are taken by jeeps to the starting point. We cross the border with Montenegro. Before leaving, you will be asked to bring your passport or ID card. We come to the starting point on the river Tara. Before lowering the boat, you receive safety information, what to do in case of falling out. Advice is to stay calm, composed, because fear is the most common cause of drowning. Do not take these instructions lightly – “why is he telling us this, I already know”, because anything could happen. It is not so harmless.
As a team, we lower the boat into the water, the skipper tells us where to sit and gives us paddles. Forward to the right, backwards to the left, everyone forward, stop – my favorite command, that’s when we all stop paddling. We try to be synchronized, to remember the commands, aaaand…off we go. We are doing great. We use GoPro to film it all. We are enjoying ourselves. It is a little bit cold, but nothing that can’t be endured. We cross the first rapid, as our skipper says, a riffle. The level of excitement is rising, you feel an adrenalin rush, we exclaim exhilarated. We’re paddling, trying to do so as pros, very quickly we lose strength, but are soon back in the game.
It starts raining, cold wind starts to blow, and Tara is not a bit warmer. The skipper tries to warm us up by giving commands but not once can you hear “STOP”.
Honestly, first half an hour was interesting, shouting, screaming, excitement, adrenalin, then it becomes difficult, very much so. Cold all over, I can’t feel my fingers, but if we stop paddling it will only get worse.
We stop at the waterfall to rest and take some pictures. And we don’t stop anymore. It’s too cold for that. The skipper signals us that we can jump into the river and let the water carry us. I decide not to do that after all. It’s too cold as it is. The skipper entertains us with stories of past times, when strong, capable, and skillful men built bridges here, rode horses.
“How much longer I’m asking. “Another 15 minutes” says the skipper. Once we arrive everyone goes for a hot shower and straight away around the fire. Would I go rafting again? – perhaps, when I forget this cold. Maybe I would rather go to a regatta, where there’s no paddling 🙂
The next day it is agreed – we go to Trebinje. Paja rented a house there, in the old part of the city. What then, the question arises? We can go to Dubrovnik, the weather will be great, and after that we could go to Korcula. We search for accommodation, how long would it take to get to the island, when does the ferry leave. What about Split – I propose? Ok. Agreed. From Trebinje we can arrange accommodation in Split. After breakfast we leave the camp, thank the staff of Highlander camp and drive to Trebinje.
We go through Gacko, then Bileca and then we get a fantastic view over Gracanica and Trebinje. The Sun at its zenith, ideal temperature for rediscovering Trebinje. This is my third time here and I really love this city. A proper sea town, without the sea. You start to imagine you can smell salt in the air. The old town surrounded by stone walls, narrow streets.
What to visit when you’re in Trebinje:
- The old town – Kastel;
- Garden “Platani”, under the plane trees you will find deep shade even in the hottest temperatures;
- City park;
- Hercegovacka Gracanica. The view from this place is amazing, especially at sunset (springtime and sunsets). The remains of Jovan Ducic are in the church, moved here from America in 2000.
- Jazina resort;
- Try cevapi in “Porto Bello” restaurant – they’re finger lickin’ good;
- Arslanagic Bridge;
- Try any wine from Trebinje, in any of the wineries or in the garden of hotel “Platani”, and add to that some smoked ham. “Vukoje” winery has a pretty good reputation.
- On the opposite side of the Old Town, next to the river Trebisnjica, take a photo with the stone walls and the Stone Bridge in the background, from which locals do a swallow dive into the river.
After a day of fun in Trebinje, as agreed, we continue our trip to Dubrovnik. We booked accommodation in Split via Booking.com and after Dubrovnik that’s our next destination.
It takes only 40 minutes from Trebinje to Dubrovnik and the road is perfect. After passport control, we arrive to the sunlit city. The sea, the sun, cobblestone roads, the walls. It looks so promising. The city experienced even greater fame after parts of the phenomenal series Game of Thrones had been filmed here. Thousands and thousands of tourists rush to see the locations where the series was filmed. I thought to myself – how cool it would have been if I lived here as a child, running these narrow streets and playing hide-and-seek. My parents spent their honeymoon here and this made it somehow even more special.
Dubrovnik is like an open-air museum. Every corner is interesting for exploration. You are drawn to check out every nook, every square…Stradun smells of the sea, of happiness. And then when mimosas bloom…
What to visit when you’re in Dubrovnik:
- Stradun – come earlier to the city, around noon you already don’t know if, and on how many you will step over;
- The Rector’s Palace;
- Dubrovnik City Walls – go for a walk along the city walls, the view from up there over the sea and clothes drying in the breeze, mysterious streets. You will be charged for climbing the walls;
- The Minceta Tower;
- Dubrovnik Cathedral;
- If you’re a fan of GoT, there are special tours being organized;
- Go to the Srdj Fort Imperial by Dubrovnik cable car. From there you will have a fantastic view over the city and the sea;
- Island of Lokrum, you can reach by boats, it takes about 10 minutes from Dubrovnik. The main landmark of the island is the Benedictine Monastery which holds an iron throne replica from GoT.
After wandering around Dubrovnik exhilarated, we set off for Split, which means driving along the beautiful coastal area. The sea follows us, the landscape is gorgeous. On our way to Split we need to cross Neum which is in BH, and then after half an hour driving enter Croatia again. I don’t know if I ever imagined Neum to be like that. An enormous hotel from the socialist era, but kind of sparkling and pretty.
The road from Dubrovnik to Split is not short. It takes a solid 3-hour drive. But the landscape is so beautiful, the weather is wonderful so nothing is too difficult.
And Split…. Split is, it seems to me, even more beautiful than Dubrovnik….one great museum showpiece.
First, we come across a huge statue of Grgur Ninski, another magnificent piece by Ivan Mestrovic. It is said that if you touch the toe, eternal fortune will follow you. We didn’t mess with any feet 🙂
We walk the narrow streets, full of cafes and shops and arrive to Perstyle, in other words free area surrounded by walls.
From there you can enter the Cathedral of St. Duje
and Diocletian’s Palace which is included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Here is also the Bronze gate, entrance to the mausoleum made from white stone, and represents perhaps the best-preserved remembrance.
Dome-shaped vestibule through which you can see the sky.
If you go down by the Vestibule, you pass by the stands with souvenirs and walk out directly to Split Riviera. And there, the sun has almost set and it’s crowded with people.
We were referred to Fife Bafet for excellent meal. House specialty is Pasticada with gnocchi and of course wine.
And with good food and even better wine goes light conversation. One word after the other and we realize that all guests around us have left, and we are still sitting and chatting away.
Split at night is magical.
It wasn’t difficult persuading Vlada to go for a cup of coffee in Zadar. Sunshine, a smile, good mood, and it’s decided. We say goodbye to Paja and continue to Zadar.
Zadar is clean, nice, joyous. Here as well we are welcomed by multitudes of Asian tourists. But also, tourists from other parts of the world.
We send our love to the sea. We listen to the sweetest melody that the sea in duet with the wind creates. Here they call them the Sea organ. We share this melody with you.
Another attraction in Zadar are circular multi-layered glass plates, that light up during sunset. Together with the Sea organ they make an extraordinary, modern spectacle.
Another roman historic monument is the Roman Forum in front of the Church of St. Donatus and the Archbishop’s Palace.
What you should also not miss is Zadar’s People’s Square.
We leave the Croatian coast behind and are on our way back to Serbia. Holidays are over, and we are left with our batteries charged, unique memories and beautiful friendship.
All photos by: Danica, Vlada
Camera used: Nikon D3000, HTC 10