James and I along with Donna Tormo received a lovely invitation from our friend Peggy San Filipo, come and see Tucson. Peggy, Donna and I are old skiing/life/work buddies from Aspen, hard to note that was decades ago.
We did a walk in Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina mountains of Arizona. There were large numbers of Saguaro cactus, water holes and large boulders of gneiss. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny.
James and I still travel with both ladies. For years we met Donna in different places: San Diego, San Francisco, Baltimore, Houston and New York on our trips back to the US and also travelled Italy together. Peggy has visited us twice in Sydney and for years we have met in Los Angeles just before we would head back to Sydney.
There was quite a bit of eating, drinking, laughing and talking going on all weekend. There were walks and taking photos. Visiting the Hotel Congress and visiting a very lively downtown Tucson and seeing where they captured Dillinger. We had a great dinner at Cafe Poca Cosa on Saturday night with friends Arta and Celeste.
James and I are enjoying San Diego, it is not just Mexican food, relaxing with Anna & Harv or beautiful vistas, but all the opportunities we have to catch up with old friends. We celebrated day of the Dead with Anne, met Kayla La Morte in a revitalised downtown San Diego and visited Anne Hoiberg at Liberty Station.
Today was a beautiful San Diego day, the on shore winds meant the usual marine layer with its haze was missing. We had a nice walk on Coronado Beach, finding sand castles and hawk training, a brilliant blue sky. We could see the Coronado Islands and ships in San Diego bay.
We are off for a few days to Tucson to see Peggy San Filipo and Donna Tormo and Linda, Sarah and Amanda on the way back.
We have had an exciting time since we left London, too busy to blog. We are going to share some photos and catch up on the blogging today.
We are staying in San Diego East County with Anna and Harv in Fletcher Hills. We have been visiting east of Fletcher Hills in Buckland Springs with lifesaver legends, having bonfires and hearing bout the good ole days. We are also happy to go west and visit the Harbour and La Jolla which are nearby.
We visited Embarcadero Park, which is a reclaimed area facing the Navy shipyards. It is a part of Seaport Village and has plenty of cafes, kites and views.
On Wednesday, we went down to La Jolla Cove for a walk along the cliffs. We started off watching (and smelling) the sea lions and seals. Pungent is not be strong enough to describe the smell. As we walked along we saw a pod of dolphins come into the area probably chasing a school of fish because the pelicans were also doing sweeps of the waves trying to catch fish too. They entertained us for quite awhile taking turns to capture our attention.
As we walked towards the Children’s pool, we passed a cliff and gulls and pelicans were there to preen and rest, before flying off in formation. It was a wonderful site because we were on the cliff top and their formations were swooping right past us.
San Diego hospitality has been unsurpassed and we are enjoying life in the Hills with Anna and Harv.
The song says ‘you always take the weather with you’, the last few days we have had wonderful sunny clear days and most evenings a big thunderstorm, reminding us of Sydney southerly busters.
We were on our way to Bol on the island of Brac, thinking we would be able to pick up a mooring but we were waved onto the town quay. On the other side of the L shaped Quay there were several catamarans, who probably only draw about 1.3; on our side it was a bit deeper but very busy with the ferry wharf. James, Claire and I decided it was too bouncy to stay on board for lunch and went off to find a pizza on the boardwalk. We said hello to the Perth, WA owners of La Mischief, Steve and Cas, who invited us over for a drink in the evening
We headed out to the iconic beach of Zlatni Rat. This is one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia. Zlatni Rat is a arrowhead of white pebbles over 600 metres long, which changes shape depending on the currents and winds. Close by there are Roman ruins in a stand of pines and a lovely simple church. It seemed one side of Zlatni was protected great for swimming and the other perfect for wind surfers.
Sunset is nigh, we head over to La Mischief, which is very close to the boardwalk and its cafes. The prevailing thought seems to be we should have a cocktail. So an order went in to the nearby cafe for 3 margaritas and 3 Royal Mojitos. In Bol’s joggly bay, it is hard to negotiate the passerelles, but our wonderful waiter manages to do it with a tray of cocktails.
During our chat, we hear about La M’s problem on entering Croatia. Current practice on entering a country late at night would be to fly the Q flag, stay on board until morning and contact the authorities. However, two months ago, Croatia changed this rule. You must fly the Q flag, make your way to the Harbourmaster’s office and call him on the number advised on his door, regardless of time. One more reason to arrive during daylight hours. Fines are payable. Money better spent on Procip!
We were planning to go to Hvar and moor in the town’s bay, but the weather has been questionable, so we opt for Stari Grad, which means we can take Claire to our favourite swimming spot and chill out bar for lemon press. Stari Grad is the port on Hvar from which the ferry leaves to Split or Dubrovnik.
It is so dry here during summer that there are many cafes that exist under umbrellas. Please note the secure fencing (aka ropes) to ensure safety. You can’t see all the dogs also visiting the cafe, none of which cause a problem.
Today we had an early morning walk to take Claire to the ferry enroute to Dubrovnik. It is going to be a bit quieter on Mercier tonight, but we hope that Claire enjoys Dubrovnik and Corfu and the rest of her travels. We all agree, you only live once.
Zadar is a remarkable town with wonderful public places. The Forum is a public square which presents the Roman town layout with artifacts of its Roman ancestry. Columns and capitols sit on the paving, evoking the lives of people 2500 hundred years ago.
The alleys offer shade in the hot Croatian summer sun and the Trqs or Squares offer a sunny seat on winter days. There are gardens and small harbours just outside the old town which sits on a small elongated penisula.
Sadly after a few good days in Zadar, Lesley left us for better gelato in Ancona and a beautiful Umbrian Hill town, Gubbio, for truffle laden delicacies. Jealous much? We are already plotting to get Lesley back next year, such a excellent traveller and great friend.
Our crew size hasn’t diminished, Claire Frost has joined Mercier for a bit of island hopping. going south back down towards Dubrovnik. We will be visiting Murter, Brac and Hvar while Claire is with us.
We had a good evening in Biograd, which is fairly resorty. It has been stormy & raining in Murter but we are cozy in Marina Hramina, which is a very nice marina.
Happy Birthday to my cousin, Sandra Riner. Hope you have a lovely day!
We left Sali after a beautiful dawn and we thought we would go to Iz. No not Oz, IZ.
We thought we might get a swim in on our way and we sailed into a beautiful uninhabited bay, called Vodenjak. There are moorings, the water is so deep, but we can see the block of concrete and unchafed lines. Perfect. We have lunch and a swim and we read about Iz, which sounds very nice but Vodenak is perfect at the moment.
There are a few boats on moorings but many smaller boats are leaving, the perfect little bay is getting quieter and more wonderful by the minute. A quick vote, Vodenjak – 3, Iz – 0.
The water was clear. The clarity was such that you could see sea cucumbers inching around on the bottom 4 metres down. Lesley had brought some ingredients for Thai Green curry sauce, so we made a wonderful dinner and enjoyed the stars.
The next morning, we motored over to Zadar, through the Prolaz Veliz Drela passage. It was very calm and there was just a bit of current.
We sailed into Zadar and we were met by the ferries going in and out and by the traditional ferry man of Zadar.
Alex Crevar, in the NYTimes, has a great headliner, “After 2000 years, a Croatian Port Town Still Seduces” and he has some great facts. There are Roman ruins, the main being a large area called the Forum and various columns throughout the town, Zadar is home to the oldest university in Southeast Europe – over 600 hundred years old.
Probably the bit we enjoyed most was the Sea Organ and Salute to the Sun, both designed by Nikola Basic. Wikipedia describes the Sea Organ, as an architectural object located in Zadar, which uses the sea waves entering tubes underneath the large marble steps creating a musical instrument played by the wind and sea. The music was sonorous and clearly made children happy. Dogs weren’t as lucky, many dogs were clearly unhappy with some of the sounds.
While parents are happy to sit and stare off into a sunset, children aren’t always happy to be so still. With Basic’s Greetings to the Sun, children and adults were interacting with the sunset and then dancing on the photovoltaic solar modules with no need to stop moving.
More on Zadar tomorrow, Alex Crevar picked the right title, Zadar does still seduce.
It sounds like the weather is divine everywhere, but we have had a week of beautiful weather here, after only two days of rain last week. We are swimming every day, as the days are still warm but the nights are beautifully cool. Frosty and Louise, we try to convince Lesley that we melted on those hot August nights, she hardly believes us.
There was no shop in Mir and we were shy of a few things for dinner, including bread. However, no sooner had we finished our swim, the fruit and vegetable man came to visit us. Toni’s supermarket visits us just before we start dinner, so his timing is impeccable. It is a whole new meaning to ‘having the groceries delivered’.
We sailed the full scope of Luka Telascica, a large natural harbour at the Southern approach to Dugi Otok. We moored at Mir, very close to the entrance and we wanted to see the whole harbour so we went on a tour of the whole bay. We sailed past one island with wild donkeys, who became very alert when we yelled out “donkeys”!
To get to Sali, we had to go through a narrow passage between Dugi Otok and Otok Kornat. The Prolaz Proversa Velachannel is 2.2 metres at the shallowest point with an east going current. The Thompsons pilot book says never to be attempted in a bora which blows strongly here or a sirocco, which creates big seas.
We had a swim at a little island before lunch and then sailed into Sali. Lesley, James and I went for a swim again later in the afternoon, but there were a surfeit of black sea urchins (read stingy urchins), so I held back. James went back to Mercier. Lesley and I continued around a wonderul seaside path until we found a rocky beach with a handhold and no sea urchins. We were swimming and talking and the lady next to us asked where we were from. Her name is Marijan (spelling?), she was born in Sali but emigrated to the US with her parents in the late 60’s. Her parents have moved back to Sali. She lives in New Jersey and loves to visit them and swim here. We had a lovely chat, and she showed us the way over the hill into town, past her parent’s bouganvillea covered home.
On our travels we passed a tiny chapel, so beautiful dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary who looks after fisherman and we hope, sailors.
Sibenek (pronounced Shibenik) is noted as the first Croatian City, because it was founded by the Croats in the 10th Century. We left Trogir with a 4 hour sail in front of us. There would be a stop in Primosten for lunch and a swim. With the exception of a day near Hvar, we hadn’t seen so many boats sailing and motoring, as we saw between Trogir and Sibenek.
We moored stern to on the Sibenek town quay and went wandering around the medival city. As with many towns there are a large number of churches. We really related to the Cathedral of St James. It was beautiful, with a gorgeous statute of Micheal the Archangel over the entry. More remarkable are the 74 faces on the Apse, who are said to be the realisation of the common man but ‘My Croatia’ says were the collective faces of the 74 prominent Sibenik citizens who refused to contribute to the building fund.
Lesley, James and I climbed to the Monastery garden of St Lawrence, which was very lovely. A classic medieval parterre garden, with herbs and medicinal plants in the shape of a cross. It was beautiful and peaceful.
We walked through a cemetery to get to St Michael’s Fortress, we had followed a monk in brown robes, but he disappeared and we couldn’t see how he entered the Fortress – the Da Vinci code sprang to mind. Sibenek was heavily bombed in the 1991-95 war, but it is recovering.
We were up early for the short trip to Skradin, through the beautiful, narrow channel which winds up the River Krka. Much of this part of the river is covered in mussel and oyster farms. See the photo for an idea of Eating Local.
Arriving at Skradin, we were left without a doubt that we were in the right place.
There has been a change in Croatia; the weather is changeable and the crowds seem to be diminishing as well.
Its been busy, Milna was very quiet but enjoyable, but we were too lazy to blog. Split was busy and our friend, Lesley joined us for the next sector of Mercier’s Voyage.
In Milna, we stayed at Marina Vlaska which is at the mouth of the harbour going into Milna. There were several benefits to staying here. Great showers, beautiful swimming beach right around the corner ( there could be no swimming in Milna Bay, too dirty) and the Illyrian Restaurant, which along with Croatian food, did a great Thai Curry and Sate. We did walk into Milna town, with its great chill out bars, but Marina Vlaska was the place to be.
From here it was an easy trip up to Split, which was a busy town but not as busy as the week earlier. Italian schools went back on Monday and we haven’t heard nearly as many Italian accents since then.
We motored over to Stari Grad; it seemed quiet. The only sign of activity are the yachts moorning on the quay. It was midday and taciturn Stari Grad seems to go home for lunch. We walked along the bay in the heat. The town is scenic but the walk toward the ferry quay is enticing. We wandered towards the shade of a pine covered path, we witnessed picnics virtually in the water.
We found a very nice cafe, under fragrant pine trees, with great music. You could jump down a few stairs and go for a swim, come up and have a shower and sit back down to your piccolo latte.
About 4PM, the town came to life and you could see its vitality return and Stari Grad became vibrant. Children, dogs and their minders were walking up and down the handsome white stoned Novo Riva, with yachts in the center of small fishing boats and giant day tripper boats. Music coming from boats and the chatter of friends enliven the atmoshpere, hard to believe that it is the same town we landed in four hours earlier.
Up at the top towards the Trig Stepjana Radica, we walk along the bay towards the market.
At the market, all the fruit and many of the veggies are covered in bees. The stall holders are stoical and set up sacrificial watermelons, so the bees will leave everyone alone but we think it is just successful in attracting more bees. Bees come back to Mercier, drunk on grapes. We take the grapes outside and send the staggering bees home.
Last night, we met up with the crew of Sarayu, Dennis, Bosjana and Caroline, the five of us went to a lovely restaurant, Jurin Podrum in one of the alleys parallel to the Quay. We talked about passages and directions, it has been great catching up with other Aussies. We are sharing the same experiences, it’s a powerful tonic.