Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Days 81-82, Goodbye Croatia, Hello Slovenia

August 30-31, 2014 - Saturday, Day 81


After our final breakfast, address swapping, and heartfelt goodbyes, the reluctant-to-leave passengers disembarked from the Adriatic Queen by 9:30.  We had packed a small overnight bag for our one night stay in an AirBnB in Split, and then dropped off the rolling backpacks in a locker at the bus station for pickup the following day.

Once we were luggage free we walked into the old town and palace of Split, visiting sites, sipping lattes in the palace square, catching up on the Internet, decompressing from our wonderful trip.  Later in the day, we checked into our Airbnb room within a 10 minute walk from old town, bus station and swimming beach.  Once we checked in, we went to the beach for a last swim in the Adriatic.  I think I was the only woman on the beach in a one piece bathing suit. Regardless of age and size, women were wearing two piece, skimpy suits.  Doesn't leave much for the imagination.  Some things really should just be covered up.

After all the food we consumed in the last week, we were content with cups of soup, crackers, and fresh tomatoes in our room before lights out.

Sunday, Day 82

After or DIY breakfast of yogurt and granola in our room, we headed out for the bus station, picked up our baggage, and boarded the express shuttle bus to the airport.  Compared to yesterday, when the bus station was absolutely packed from all of the Saturday disembarkments, today was relatively calm and quiet.  The airport on the other hand was quite busy.  All the tanned families, old people and young people alike were sadly heading home.

While we waited for our Air Serbiia flight with one layover in Belgrade, we ate lunch.  Later when we were in Belgrade, Serbia we ate dinner before boarding our flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia.  We are currently in route to Slovenia, same plane, same crew we had flying into Belgrade.  By the time we land, pickup our rental car and get to our  AirBnb it will most likely be 9:30 p.m.  
It's been a long day.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel R's in Slovenia

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Days 76-80, Dubrovnik back to Split

80 Days About the World


I guess we've been having too much fun to write.  Between walking through the picturesque narrow cobbled streets in old towns of Dubrovnick, Trstenik, Korkula, and Hvar (where we are tonight) in the island of Croatia, we have been eating too well, drinking Croatian wines, basking in the sun, playing cards, reading books, making new friends with Italians, Slovakians, Croats, New Zealanders, South Africans, and Aussies, and swimming the better part of the day in  beautiful bays with crystal clear blue-green waters.

Tonight we sat along the quay and found great amusement in watching all the charter boats jockeying for position and then tying on to a shared buoy, backing into a tight space then tying stern lines to shore.  Glad we weren't involved.  It all looked like an accident waiting to happen, especially when the "sailors" backed in unprepared and threw out gobs of line tangled like spaghetti, to plop in the water.  The end result is a giant raft up along the shore and a spider web of lines crisscrosed and tied all over one another.  Tomorrow morning will most likely be even more amusing...but not our problem, heheh!

We head bacsk to Split tomorrow, before we split for Slovenia on Sunday.  Always loved the story 80 Days Around the World.  Guess it will take us a lot longer, but Friday, is 80 Days....about the World and having fun.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in beautiful Croatia.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 74-75, Sunday and Monday, Croatian Islands

August 24-25, Adriatic Queen


Our first night, Saturday night, was quiet as we slept in our stateroom on the Adriatic Queen in the port city of Makarska.  The evening thunder and lightening storm passed, but now the air was humid and warm.

We were awakened by the sound of the engine leaving port.  How nice it was to sleep in and let someone else ready the boat and take her out of the harbor.  On our way to the island of  where we spent most of the day and evening hiking and swimming in the national park Mljet, we took our first swim in the Adriatic in  Kanaj off the island of Korkula The water was cool getting in, but once in it felt refreshing.  The salty content made us quite bouyant.  I could float legs down with head and shoulders above the water and not even dog paddle.  Russ who is quite the sinker, sank only to the top of his without moving any other part.  Needless to say, it was a very nice and relaxing way to spend an hour.

Shortly after our lunch on board, we rafted up in the port of  Pomena, on the Island of  Mljet.  There must have been 20 other boats our size rafted up in two lanes against the the short dock with fantail aft decks facing one another.  It was going to be quitie the party tonight.  Happy hours on our boat are 9:30-11:30.  Looked though as if we were in the sedate raft up of newer boats with more amenities, and the ones across from our stern were vintage boats for the under 30's singles crowd. Our captain is president of the yacht cruising boat association.  Not sure what the responsibilities and headaches of this office, but it apppears there might be a benefit of his ship being the first to drop anchor in bays and some close priority to the dock so that guests only have a no or just a few yachts to traipse across as we disembark and embark.

We disembarked, bought ourselves a National Park ticket, and spent the rest of the day hiking, sightseeing (old monastrary and Roman ruins ) and swimming in a saltwater lake on the island of Mjet.  The water in the lake was even saltier than the sea, clear, warm, and shades of blue-geen and aqua.  Russ gave it the sink test, and almost his whole head was out of the water.

We had had such a filling lunch on the yacht that we found a restaurant on the way back to the boat where we just ordered and shared a greek salad and tomatoes, mozerella, and basil salads, red wine, and saved room for double scoop gelatos after dinner.  By 9:00 in the evening our boat was reverberating from the music and base eminating from the big kid boats across from us.  Each had their own music and psychedelic light show going on trying to out do one another.  The cacophony of sound on our side was loud and discordanant.  There are times when it's nice to be more mature and can gracefully say good night and block out the sounds in our stateroom.  Good night kids, have fun.

Monday, Day 75

We departed this morning for Dubrovnik.  We arrived here around 1:00 while still eating a sea bass lunch.  We did have a gorgeous swim stop in a bay Lubdu (sp).  Incredibly clear water.  Didn't even need snorkles to see the fish swimming under us.  Russ and I swam 200 meters to shore and then back another 200 meters.  Have to work off those ice creams somehow.

This afternoon, we have walked through the old town of Dubrovnik and are now sipping lemonade in an outdooe cafe.  We are acheduled to take a guided waking tour i half an hour.  Having a wonderful time, meeting some great people along the way.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 73 - Saturday, August 23, 2014 - The Adriatic Queen

Day 73 - Saturday and the Adriatic Queen


After we dropped the rental car off at the airport, we took an an express bus to the Split harbor, where we boarded a motor sailing yacht with 14 staterooms, two aft fantail shaded decks, and sun deck on the bow, dining saloon and bar.  There is a crew of 8 to take care of our needs.

As I finish off this blog post, we have had a wonderful lunch and met many of the international travelers from New Zealand, France, Italy, and South Africa.  There is no wifi on board, so I will post on a shore excursion somewhere.  The sun is out, the mountains, are high, the sea is blue, the air is fresh, and we are once again sailing...kind of...no sails up yet, but WhooHoo! 

Just docked for the night in Makarska.  A fierce, thunder, lightening and rainstorm is passing over right now as we sit in a bar drinking local draft beer.  Cheers

All is Well with the Worrall Travel Rs on the Adriatic Queen in Makarska, Croatia

Day 71-72, August 21-22 Ancient Sea City of Trogir, Croatia

Day 71 -  Thursday, Entering Trogir

We left the Plitvice House mid-morning after our magnificent hike through Plitvice National Park the day before.  Today was primarily a travel daay through the mountains sothwestward toward the sea and our destination of Trogir.

Trogir is a lovely old city, dating back to 300 BC, inhabited by Greeks, Romans, and numerous others.  The port today is a tourist destination and charter yacht pickup and drop off port.  The old city courtyards become a conglomerate of festive outdoor restaurants in the evenings.  The fruitt market, seafood markets, bakeries, super market, ice cream, and souvenier shops selling bething suits, sun hats, and coverups do a lively business.  Even the churches looked buy with people chanting as they approached the alter for communion.  We have not seen any mosques here, mostly Orthodox and Roman Catholic.

We spent two nights here in an AirBnB, a nice room with comfortable bed overlooking the marina and the city across the river.  Once we parked the car, and that was quite tricky, we walked everywhere.  When we first arrived, we searched for our accommodation address, having made arrangements with our host to seek out the business below the rooms and have, the propietor call him at his work.  He would then come to greet us and show us where to park and our rooms.

The traffic wa slow, bumper to bumper, and the maps we have for the area are sketchy.  We could see on the IPad whee our physical location is, but often it placed us a bit off the road.  Also the maps when layered down will show a road, but not give a true indication of the width for a car, verses a motor bike.  Our first pass of the accommodation indicated no parking across from the rooms, but possibly a space on the oppposite of the road directly under the rooms which would require us to approach from the oppposite direction.

We wound our way slowly up the hill and made a left turn at the top on a street that looked like it had some descending backgroads that would take us to the back of our accommodation.  We made a turn down one of the roads.  Good idea but the street became narrower and narrower. We had to pull in the sideview mirrors to squeak through one section, hoping it would widen up to the main road, but no, it got even narrower.  At this point, motormikes and pencil thin people could not squeak past us. 

There had been a tight turn around space where another small road had interscted about 30 meters back, but it meant backing up and doing a tight three point turn.  So we backed up ever so slowly as locals scratched their heads in amazement of the lunatics who would try to drive a car down the road. As soon as the street was wide enough for me to open the door, I got out to help direct Russ's backward and forward movement, stopping him frequently to direct motor bkes and pedestrians.  At one point Russ was an eyelash from scraping the side off of the car on an old brick wall where jagged pieces protruded.

We finally made it back to the top and and tuned back down the main road from the direction we had originally come.  Now we were half a kilometer from the guesthouse moving 1 car length every minute or so.  There was no guarantee that we would find parking when we got there so I got out and walked down the road, knocking on stopped cars as I squeezed between them and the stone walls on the passenger side.  I just wanted to alert them I was there so I din't wind up getting squished if they needed to move closer to the wall for a truck coming up the road.

It took me about 10 minutes to make my way to the proprietor's shop below the room we were renting.  The lady called the owner.  He said he would be there in about 15 minutes and that we should just pull up on the sidewalk in front of the store until he arrived.  It took Russ another 15 minutes to return to the accommodation where I waved him up on the sidewalk.  Really?  I could see the question on his face.

Our host arrived at the same time.  He helped unload our bags and took them upstairs, then offered to ride in the car to a designated parking place.  He recognized the AVIS car and it turnee out he works at the AVIS office at the airport where we will be ultimately return the car.  He offered to drive the car through the crazy traffic and streets much to Russ's joy,  Kaija did a three point turn on the sidewalk to turn the car completely around, drove backup the main road, and down one of the roads we had not previously taken to a quiet, safe little place to park.  Phew!  Glad Russ didn't have to do that!  We were exhausted.

We rested up a bit then walked through the old city, having  great sea bass and veal dinner.  Got some nice evening photos and realized we would have to get up early the following morning to get uncluttered street shots before the herds of other tourists jammed the narrow city alleys.

Day 72 - Friday, Hanging out in Trogir

Had a great day, doing much of nothing.  We were in and out of our room many times during the day to enjoy respite in air conditioning and the humid warm air of Trogir.  We did get up early for some photos, again for shopping, ATM, later a walk through the marinas, and a fourth time back into the city for ice creams.  We leave in the morning for Split.  

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Trogir, Croatia

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 70 - Splendiferous Plitvice National Park, Croatia - Include it on Your Bucket List

Natural Water Splendor

DON'T MISS ALL the Photos of this beautiful National Park.  Click HERE.

Our hike through Plitvice National Park in Croatia today, has to be the natural highlight of our trip so far.  What a great way to spend day 70 of our odyssey.  Waterfalls gurgled, gushed and roared from above and below our feet as we wove our way on boardwalks and trails around and through sixteen lakes.  It was indescribable beauty of crystal clear emerald water cascading from one lake to another in veils of spray, ribbons, and streams.

Not sure we want to check this one off the bucket list as it begs for a repeat!  This is not a good place for even fat short heels (come on ladies, get a grip), wheel chairs, strollers, uncontrolable toddlers, dogs, and others who might have issues walking or balancing over water.  Board walks are rough, stepped up and down in small tripable increments (we tripped a couple of times), no rails, and narrow.  There is a lot of two way walking traffic with picture taking every two feet.

Hint.  Go early.  Start by 7:00-7:30 am before the tour busses and the hoards from Split arrive around 10:00.  We had most of the morning to ourselves, and by the thick of the day we were almost done with our hike.

For those interested in a little more about the geology of this park, I am including a bit from Wikapedia 

"The national park is world famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Currently, 16 lakes can be seen from the surface.[3]These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of mossalgae, and bacteria. The particularly sensitive travertine barriers are the result of an interplay between water, air and plants. The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm (0.4 in) per year.
The sixteen lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains, descending from an altitude of 636 to 503 m (2,087 to 1,650 ft) over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction. The lakes collectively cover an area of about two square kilometres (0.77 square miles), with the water exiting from the lowest lake forming the Korana River.
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight."
Dreaming of emeral water tonight.  
All is Well With the Worrall Travel R's

Day 69 - Underground Tunnel into Saraevjo

Bullet riddled home of under ground tunnel entrance.

For complete Bosnia-Herzgovina Photo Ablum, click HERE

During the Siege of Saraevjo, 1991-1995, the city nestled in an alpine valley was held hostage with gunfire and mortar attacks from the Serbs in the surrounding mountains.  Getting supplies into the residents of the city was next to impossible.  Airplanes could land out of mortar range at the western end of Saraevjo, but getting the supplies overland to the people in the city was always under attack.

We read that the average Saraevjan lost 30 lbs during the seige because food was so scarce. Our AirBNB host explained to us that he was able to open a night club providing some refuge and enterainmen for belaguered Saraevjians, once an underground tunnel from the airport to the city had been dug and human packers could bring in supplies. 

Today the tunnel entrance is open as a museum and testament to Saraejvan fortitude and resolve to hang on to their city and its citizens.  In 1993 the tunnel took 4 months and 4 days to dig the tunnel, 800 meter long and 1 meter wide.  Four thousand men everyday, carrying 50 kilos each tramped through the tunnel carrying supplies.  This is especially remarkable as the tunnel's highest point is only 1.6 meters high which meant men were bent over with packs on their back.  
Russ immediately bumped his head as we descended into the tunnel for a short tramp.  Later, there were some rails installed for push trains.  Given the width of the tunnel, it could really only support one way traffic. 

We had the opportunity to meet the man who lived next to the tunnel and helped to dig the tunnel.  He proudly showed us his tunnel digging commemoration plaque.  Human ingenuity and survival resolve is an amazing trait.

This was a very intersting stop on our way out of Sarajevo and Bosnia on our way to Croatia.

All is Well from the Worrall Travel R's in transit to Croatia

Days 68 - Saraevjo - WHY?

After the war and now,  Museum photo of Saraevjo City Hall

For the complete Bosnia-Herzgovina Photo Album, Click Here

Saraevjo, as most of you may remember, was the Yugoslavian venue for the 1984 Winter Olympics when American Scott Hamilton took men's ice skating gold, Brian Boitano and Rosalyn Summers took silver in ice skating, maverick Bill Johnson won the downhill,  the Mehr brothers took gold in Slalom and Super G, and the American Hockey team came in seventh. This was the last Olympics held in the USSR before the collapse of Soviet Union in 1990.

The Balkins, former Yugoslavia, have a long complex history better explained through Wikipedia than me.  I am still trying to understand how this lovely country of Bosnia i Herzegovina could be so brutally attacked by the Serbs after BiH declared themselves independent from the former Yugoslavia. It's all very confusing and depressing.  The multi-ethnic conflict spanned 4 years, beginning in 1991, devastating cities and lives, and resulting in over 100,000 deaths.  

In my opinion, multi-ethnic, idealogic, or religious wars is a political terminology that sugar coats ancient tribalism/ modern day nationalism and religious beliefs that breed privilege and arrogance over those not of the same ilk.  It is depressing to think that when we think there is peace in the world it is only short gasps between conflicts.  There will never be a war that ends all wars.  But somehow we continue to think that military might (death, destruction, and fear) involvement is the answer.

What will it take to really have peace?  How can we harness and channel our men (sorry guys, but women are not the primary problem here) to be constructors and builders of peaceful humane societies and not destructors and power hungry aggressors?  If our brains cannot evolve faster than our hormones, we are sure to never know peace.  So I don't have the answer except that a broad, reason-based education, character development, global worldview, and decrease of hero worship of testosterone on overdrive (military, sports, rampant capitalism where money is power) would be a big step forward.  Okay, enough of the rant.

Bosnia and Saraevejo has made good progress in recovering from the siege, but bombed out and bullet riddled buildings are still evidenced, and the survivors are still trying to reconstruct their lives from personal and economic ruin.  We talked to locals who tell of the bad politics, corruption, crime, and cronyism that flourishes at the expense of many who are still unemployed.  It's all very sad, as is all conflict when normal people are caught between those who seek power and control.

We spent our day in Saraevjo at the War Museum, walking through old town, visiting the reconstructed city hall/library, churches, mosques,and many shops.  The streets in the old section were filled with tourists.  We enjoyed a quiet evening in our guest house with our host high up on the hill where the Serbians held siege of Saraevjo and watched the sunset over the city.

All is Well with The Worrall Travel R's in Bosnia

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 67, August 17, Backroads of Montenegro to Saraevjo

Water vapor rises up from the deep canyons.

For the complete Montenegro Photo Album, Click HERE

Our host at Zvono's  told us it was a short drive to Saraevjo, perhaps 2.5 hours if we took the direct route, longer if we took the back road through the Dumitor National Park.  Always eager to travel the road less traveled, we elected the scenic route.  

The drive north was wild and beautiful.  The narrow, one lane road took us into numerous rough cut tunnels through mountains and over lanes hanging on to ascending cliffs.  Surprisingly the roads were mostly paved as we wound up through deciduous and pine forests to high treeless and rocky valleys.  Small farming communities were clustered here and there with steepled churches, graveyards, and cows with full hanging udders lazily munching on unfenced green fields.

The real magnificence of Dumitor however is in its three breathtaking deep canyons and the sparkling wild and emerald rivers that flow through them.  The deepest canyon in Europe, 4,250 feet snaked its way through the valley as we stood high above on a cliff.  By the time we reached the border where Montenegro and Bosnia meet, it was late afternoon, and we were now looking for a quick drive on the main road to Saraevjo.  

Well, not exactly a quick drive.  The border crossing was slow but quicker than it was getting out of Croatia.  It was the 28 kilometer detour on an unpaved road over a mountain and around a ridge that really slowed us down.  Apparently, the main road to Saraevjo suffered some damage in an afternoon rain storm the day before.  The signage was basically a big arrow next to the closed road pointing to a dirt road with no indication where we were going.  Fortunately, the family in front of us (from Sarevjo returning home) talked to someone along the way to clarify directions, and we blindly followed behind him, eating his dust the whole way.

We reached Saraevjo late in the day, tired and dust covered,  as the last remnants of sunlight glowed on the red roofs.  Our accommodations for the night were not easy to find either, but we finally arrived.  Our  host in Saraevjo, is Oliver,...his place is called Olywood.  He is a remarkable fellow who has worked hard to build a new home high above Saraevjo, from where the Serbs held Saraejvo under seige.  Bombed out buildings still stand close by and many of the homes are still remnants of the war in Bosnia.  The view is spectacular.  To make ends meet in a country where  70% of the people are still unemployed, Oly can accommodate 12 tourists in bedrooms in his home, and some tents for car campers.

More on Saraevjo tomorrow.  

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Bosnia i Herzgovina.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Days 65-67, August 15-17, Montenegro

Friday, August 15 - Into Montenegro

For the Montenegro Photo Album, Click HERE

Our plane left Prague at 1:30 pm and we touched down in Dubrovnik, Croatia and were in our rental car headed to the Croatia - Montenegro border by 4:00.  We are now out of the Schengen zone after 33 days.Our plan is to see Dubrovnik after our cirlce tour through Montengro, Boznia Hersgovina, and northern Croatia.  We didn't take into account that even though the distance beyond the border to our night's accommodation was short, it seemed everyone from Croatia was headed in the same direction for the weekend, and the border traffic was bumper to bumper and moving very slowly. I don't think the border oficials were very efficient.  There seemed to be some consternation over our rental car papers as the registration stamp was in the wrong place.  We alone held up traffic by 15 minutes as the the three people in the control room chatted back and forth scratching their heads looking annoyed.  Finally, they passed us through.

After being in the Schengen zone where there is no border control between countries, this was a real throwback, but we were happy to get some souvenier stamps in our passports.  The climate here was Mediterranean humid, with growing cloudiness over the mountains.  In fact while we were getting our rental car in Croatia, I photographed the formation of a funnel cloud and it was a bit scary as it was not far away, but for whatever reason it never touched down and was sucked up into the inky grey clouds as the storm passed by us.

We drove around a beautiful fjord on our way to Budva, where towering granite mountains dipped into the colbalt blue sea.  Wish we could have sailed our own boat here.  It looks quite protected now, but don't know if the water becomes more treacherous when winds funnel down from the mountain tops.  The subterranean surface is rocky so not sure how ground tackle would hold.  Nevertheless, it looks like a beautiful place to sail.

We arrived at our destination after 7:00, met our friendly host Dragan, ate at a nearby restaurant enjouing local food (lamb roast and grilled chicken with Serbian salads).  The temperature was warm all evening and we slept on top of the sheets, just as we did on our boat while in the tropics.  

Saturday, August 16

The following morning we marveled at the mountainous roads as we headed first south along the coast then up and over the granite passes.  The scenery lookind down on the villages sea, Lake Skadar, mounain farms, monestaries and churches hanging from the cliffs, were spectacular.

Our major stop of the day was at the Ostrag Monestary, the third most visited holy healing place for Catholic pilgrims.  The monestary is carved into a cliffside.  A road goes to the top, but the devout climb the stairs from the cliff bottom up.  The very devout climb the rocky stairs barefoot, and the most devout on their knees.  We noted a few barefoot people amongst the many stair climbers, and no one on their knees.  We were amongst the many cars driving up the hill to the last parking lot.  There was a gate with an English speaking guard that lead to the road and parking lot all the the way to the top.  When we toped to inquire, he said only infants and infirmed could go past the gate.  He would make an exception for us if we would be a good friend to him.  We were tempted but had used all of our Euros for lunch, so we parked in the parking lot for the not so devout and non-believers with and with one less good friend.

The monestary is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.  People were climbing to the top with empty containers to fill with holy water, and were camped out on the deck in front of the monastary hoping and praying for miracles to cure themselves or their loved ones.  A lot of improvements and construction was going on with 3 new holy water fountains.  Loud speakers in the deck court yard filled the air with chanting.  The holy retail store was doing a brisk business taking believers money for all of the holy goods they were selling....wine, olive oil, gilded photos and icons of various saints, but particularly of Saint Basil, whose remains are at this site.  

At many of the rental car places we have been in, there have been a little happy and unhappy face electronic surveys of "How was our service?".  Customers either push the happy face or unhappy face button.  Wonder what statistics the Catholic church gathers on the effectiveness of holy water and pilgrimages as a cure.  Would be very interested in knowing, but then if they knew, it might put a real damper on the miracle business.

After our day's drive through the granitee mountains, we arrived at a beautiful mountain lake, a reservoir constructed in the 1970's.  Our guest house had a nice view of the lake Pivsko, and we immediately, put on our swim suits and walked five minutes to the rocky shore.  The lake temp was about 74 and felt pretty brisk as the air temperature at 2400 feet was not as warm as when we were close to the sea.  Even though we were in in sunlight peaking out from passing clouds, dark ominous clouds were gathering on the mountain tops.

We ate our dinner at the guest house Zvono where we are staying.  Most interesting was our evening cocktail.  It was made with homemade honey mead wine, golden on the bottom with a red wine floating on top.  It was very picturesque ( but did not have my camera) and it was  a very tastey wine cooler.

Day 67 - We are about ready to leave Zvono Guesthouse and Restaurant and look forward to some more gorgeous scenery on our way to Saravejo.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's in Montenegro

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Days 62-64, August 12-14 - Prague, Czech 2014

For photo album of 2014 Prague, Click HERE

We had read about and been told about the beauty of Prague, and it truly is a beautiful old European city, seemingly unscathed by the physical destruction of World War II. However, during Soviet times, we understand that this gem of a city tarnished and greyed as communism ate into its soul. There is a provocative memorial here to the human lives torn apart by totalitarianism.

Today, the city is colorful, vibrant and a tribute to human spirit and artistry.. Mid August the streets are filled with tourists from all around the world, and not because this is simply a disembarkation off a cruise ship (there are no cruise ships to the middle of the Czech Republic), but a mindful, planned destination of a major capitol city.

This is the old Bohemia with the spires of cathedrals, domes of churches, a magnificent gothic cathedral that took a thousand years of building, cobbled streets, red tiled roofs, palaces, and the largest castle complex in Europe, libraries, and bridges that span the Vltava (Weltawa) River. Commercial shops are filled with souvenirs, food, marionettes, amber and garnet jewelry, Bohemian cut glass and crystal, antique furniture, and interesting liquors including cannabis vodka.

At every turn there is interesting architecture of centuries passed, garden and street cafes, ice cream vendors, street musicians, and boxes of flowers hanging from windows. Churches throughout the city are the acoustic venues for classical organ concerts. The outdoor Senate stage provides numerous cultural shows throughout the summer.

We are on our way out of the city today to see the Karlstejn Castle built in early 1300's to house
royal treasures, holy relics,and Crown Jewels of Charles the IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roma Emperor.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Prague, flying to Dubrovnik, Croatia tomorrow.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Days 59-60-61, August 9, 10, 11, Wroclaw

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

Today is August 11, and we will be leaving later in the day by bus to the Czech Republic.  Currently we are staying in lovely new home still in the finishing stages of construction being built by our SERVAS host Greg.  Greg is a dentist in Poland and has had yesterday and today off to be of assistance to us.  Yesterday, Greg and another SERVAS day host Anna, took us out of town about 40 Kilometers  to  visit an old wooden church Kosciol Pokoju built in the 1600's in Swidnicia.  This church is so unusual it is on the World Heritage List.  Indeed it is very unusual because of its size in wood, artistry, and original construction.

Afterward we drove into the nearby hills to a lakeside beer house where we enjoyed ale and sunset over the lake, returning in the light of the rising moon back to Wroclaw for dinner and an evening walk through the city.  It was a warm Sunday night and a perfect evening end to our stay in Poland.

Prior to our one night stay with Greg, we stayed two nights with another SERVAS host Leslaw who is a German-Polish Interpreter and building construction import-buyer for a company in Wroclaw.  While Leslaw was earning his degree in language, he worked as a tour guide in Wroclaw for German tourists.  We were certainly in good hands as he took us to the most interesting sites in the city on August 9, and a wonderful Polish Restaurant for our 45th Wedding Anniversary dinner.

With all of our SERVAS hosts, we have had a most enjoyable stay in Poland, getting to know some lovely people and seeing the country and culture through the eyes and hearts of the people.  Thank you SERVAS!

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Days 56-58, August 7-8, 2014 Opole, Poland

Day 56, August 7 

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

While we were viising Auschwitz, we stayed in an AirBnb outside of Katowice.  Our host was an lovely young woman who lived in an flat above her grandparents home.  Magda has recently returned from studies and work abroad (England and South America) in theater and making movies for the last ten years, to her native Poland where she is now involved in some projects that she hopes will create a livelyjood closer to home.

We had a wonderful relaxing evening and breakfast with Magda and her family before leaving for a SERVAS home visit just outside of Opole.  Unlike most of our destinations, we had no sightseeing agenda.  Our agenda was simply to stay and meet a family.  Our SERVAS family included a mom, dad, and two sons ages 11 and 13.  Lucilla is an accomplished artist and teaches English through art, Pawel is a sales representative for road-line making equipment.  Because both of our hosts work during the week, their children served as our guides an daytime hosts.  They did a great job.  

Russ and I introduced the boys to geocaching as a way to see the area.  We started our tour of the area late morning, and made one short stop to visit Lucilla in her art workshop in Opole.  Our geo map indicated 80 caches in the immediate and surrounding area of Opole.  The boys were so excited about geocaching that after the first one was discovered, they were eager to find more.  So our entire day became a geocaching marathon... 10 in all and we hiked several miles throughout the city to find them.  What fun we all had!  It is certainly the most geocaches we have found in one day.  We also ate Polish pancakes for lunch, ate cookies, and ice cream.

In the early evening, Lucilla joined us at the Philharmonic Music School for a chamber piano concert by graduate students.  It was a short 1 hour program filled with gifted young people perforrming Bach, Berkowitz, and Chopin.  Afterwards we took a night walk through Opole, "Eastern European Venice", and the park and an outdoor cafe which the boys and we had visited earlier in the day for some refreshments.  Lucilla had contacted another SERVAS host to join us.  Anna had invited us to stay with here after we already had our arrangements made with Lucilla and her family, but we wanted to the opportunity to say hello and Lucilla made the arrangements to meet her and nine month old baby Mija.  

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but still had some quiet time with Lucilla and Pawel for a glass of wine and music, while the boys practically crawled up the stairs to go to bed.  I think we wore them out.

Day 57. August 8, 2014

We enjoyed a liesurely morning with garden breakfast with the whole family.  This visit was much too short, and we hated to leave, but now have some scheduled commitments for the next week, so we needed to be on our way.  With fond memories and promises to keep in touch, we are now on the road to Wroclaw, where we will spend three more nights with 2 more SERVAS families before leaving for Czech Republic by bus on Monday.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel R's in Poland

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Day 55 - Auschwitz Evil

Gas chamber
For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

Auschwitz is not something one really wants to see, but it something one needs to see in order to remind ourselves of how we must work to educate and cultivate the best characteristics of human kind (empathy, understanding, generosity, tolerance, respect, dignity...) and suppress those negative characteritics we possess (fanaticism, violence, hate, greed, prejudice, revenge, deceit...), so that evil of this magnitude can be prevented or deterred from happening again.

Five thousand people a day were being murdered in Auschwitz in the gas chambers and then incinerated. Heinous and sickening.

It is beyond our comprehension how Hitler could infect his sociopathy on a nation and create the evil empire of hate and murder that he did.

Worrall Travel R's are saddened today in Poland

Monday, August 04, 2014

Day 54, August 4, 2014 - Wieliczka Salt Mine

First a correction to Day 52 - Left out and important zero.  There were approximately 300,000-400,000 densly packed Jews in 3.3 square kilometers.  Not 30,000.  250-300,000 were killed.  

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

It is late in the afternoon on August 4.  Russ and I are sitting in a little bar/cafe in the old Jewish sector of Krakow.  The afternoon storm is right overhead, so we are taking a time out for some coffee and apple pie with ice cream as we catch up on email, trip planning, and blogging.

We took a tour of the salt mine this morning.  The tour was wonderful and the mine caverns with history, sculptures, cathedral, chapels, lakes, cinema, multi media, and underground markets are amazingly big and beautiful.  No longer an operating mine, the mine still employs three hundred miners to convert sections into tourist attractions.  Sorry, since I can only post one photo when I email in my blogs, I will post some photos of the mine and old town Krakow at a later date.  Check the actual blog for the photos.

Tomorrow is another sober day, as we will be going to Auschwitz, and Katowice, Poland.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's still waiting for the rain to subside in Krakow

Day 53, Travel to Krakow, August 3, 2014


For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

We awoke on Sunday morning, August 3, to a beautiful day.  After packing, and sharing breakfast with Hanna and Jacek, we bid them a heartfelt farewell and thank you for their hospitality.  We enjoyed our stay with them in the rural suburbs and the rebuilt old town of Warsaw.  In the photo above, all the buildings in the town square have been painstakingly rebuilt after the War to resemble that which one stood.

The ride through the countryside was filled with rolling hills, forests, and harvesting of grasses and grains. By the time we reached Krakow late in the afternoon, the sky darkened with heavy rain clouds.  We stopped at a grocery and made it to our AirBnB before the thunder, lightning, and rain became a torrent.  In a few hours the afternoon storm had passed.  

We went down to the kitchen and fixed ourselves some ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh tomatoes for dinner.  Tomorrow we are off to the World Heritage designated salt mines just out of Krakow in Wiekiczyka.

All is Well with the Worrall Travel R's

Day 52, August 2, 2014 - Jewish Ghettos of Warsaw

It has been a couple of sobering days here in Warsaw.

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

In 1943, the Jewish Resistance rose up against the German occupation of Poland. The Germans required the Polish Jews to wall themselves off with a two meter high brick wall In 1940. Jews from other parts were brought into the walled ghetto which served as a concentration camp until the Jews were shipped off to gas chambers, There were approximately 300,000-400,000 densly packed Jews in 3.3 square kilometers.   Food was scarce and the people were hungry and dying from typhoid.

It is my understanding, that the uprising resulted in a self-induced suicide as the resistance had little to fight with but figured they had nothing to lose and they could at least die with dignity (250-300,000) met their deaths, here. Today in Warsaw, there are few remnants and artifacts of the Jewish ghettoes. We could hve wondered through the streets not even knowing that we were once in the walled off sector.

Fortunately, we had made contact with a SERVAS day host, Ewa, retired economist and public servant. She guided us through the ghettos, showing us places where monuments, markers, and new buildings now stood where the ghettos used to exist. Ewa, is not Jewish, but had considerable historical knowledge. She also shared her own family's personal Polish tragedy during the German Nazi regime, where her father was a POW at the end of the war and escaped to ultimately be reunited with his wife, His wife Ewa's mother as a young wife was basically thrown by the Nazis into the streets with a three month old baby when here husband was taken as a POW.

She wandered looking for food and shelter to no avail. The baby, died. Eva's mother relates stories of how the civilian Poles were massacred and buildings set on fire by the Nazis. Women and children jumped from the burning buildings to their deaths. Apartment buildings on contoured hills in the old ghetto area have been built on the ashes 0f the original buildings. It is too poignant reminder of the death and destruction that war brings. All very tragic.

After our walking tour of Warsaw, we took the metro back to our home stay SERVAS hostsHanna and Jacek. We stopped at a nearby store and picked up enough ice cream to share with them and their extended family. We sat in the backyard on a warm summer evening enjoying our last evening together. Tomorrow we leave for Krakow.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's

Day 51 -August 1, 2014, Remembrance Day 1944, Warsaw

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

Today is the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 when the Polish Resistance Home Army of Warsaw tried to rise up against the German occupation and were brutally cut down. Timed to coincide with and urged on by the advancing Russians on the opposite side of the river, the Poles were led to believe that the Russians would assist them with the battle. Stalin however decided to hold off and let the Germans do the dirty work by not giving any assistance. The battle raged for 61 days and 150-200,000 Poles, mostly unarmed citizens were torn from their homes, executed in mass, and buildings burned. By January 1945, 85% of the city had been destroyed. '

This 1944 uprising came a year after the Jewish resistance of 1943 against the Germans. Since 1940, the Jewish Sector of the city known as the Ghetto had been walled off to contain and control the Jews. Eventually over 30,000 Warsaw Jews were loaded into cattle cars to die in extermination camps.

Early in the day we visited the Chopin Museum, then later strolled through the old city of
Warsaw. Girl and Boy Scouts were uniformed from all over Poland handing out information about the 5:00 pm commemoration. We made our way to the central square. Church bells began to chime along with loud sirens. Flares were burned and smoke hovered over the silent citizens who had come to remember this horrible day and for the people who had lost their lives.
It was quite moving and absolutely unfathomable how we as humans treat one another. Unfortunately, we seemed destined to keep hating and destroying those who are different from the "in" group.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's, happy to be here today and empathizing with Poles for their tragic losses

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Days 50, Warsaw, Poland

Day 50, July 31, 2014

For photo album of 2014 Poland, Click HERE

It was poring rain as we left Riga, Latvia.  As we climbed into the sky, lightening flashed around us and the ride was bumpy, but fairly short, only a couple of hours.  We arrived in Warsaw around 3:00.  By the time we picked up our rental car, bought a few groceries (wine, cheese,and grapes to share with our hosts) and drove out of the city towards our SERVAS host destination about 26 kilometers southeast of the airport, it was just after five.  When we arrived at our address, there was a green iron gate closing the driveway separating the street from a long wooded driveway, with no house in sight.

There were some Polish words on the gate which we did not understand and could not translate without a WiFi connection, nor could we call as we did not have a phone.  I thought the words could have been a beware of dog sign.  As we knew our hosts were expecting us about this time, Russ honked the car horn a couple of times,  Two large dogs rounded the corner from the end of the driveway and bounded toward the gate barking.  Well we got the dogs' attention.  We waited for awhile hoping the barking dogs would bring forth some people, but it didn't.

Even though the dogs were barking, they weren't snarling and even though they were big, one a golden lab and the other a strawberry blond shaggy sheep dog that resembled a Starwars Wookie, they looked benign.  Russ examined the gate and discovered it was not electric and with a little effort it could be slid open.  Despite my vocal reluctance to move inside the gate, Russ slid it open far enough to insert himself, and I stayed in the car outside the gate in case the dogs decided to eat him.  The dogs continued to bark, but followed after him as he turned right onto a pathway and disappeared a short distance from the gate.

Soon from the far end of the drive a man and woman started to walk towards the gate and car.  Russ intersected them at the path, and I could see that introductions were being made.
Later I found out there was a small cottage on the pathway from which Jaycek's contracting business operates.  The staff contacted the house.  The other thing I found out was the sign on the gate did not say Beware of Dogs, it said Open the sliding gate....hahaha!

Anyway, we made it inside the compound and met our lovely hosts, Jacek, engineer/contactor and Hanna, retired psychologist, also post war baby boomers who grew up in the flattened war-torn Warsaw during the Soviet times.  They had much to share with us and we were eager to learn about their lives.  Today they live in a rural area with property that is large enough for three homes including one in which their daughter, husband, and three grandchildren live.

 Hanna immediately made sure we had something to eat.  We arrived between their dinner (around) three and their (supper) between 7:00 and 8:00.  She had prepared some wonderful cold salmon with dill and eggplant, tomato salad and hot cauliflower with creamy herb sauce.  It was delicious and much appreciated.  After dinner, we continued our  conversations seeing some of the local sites (rivers, parks, saltaire park where people enjoy the humid salt mist sprayed on pine boughs).

Our bedroom turned out to be a spacious attic apartment above the cottage that Russ first found when we arrived.  We had everything we needed and it was a very pleasant retreat.

All is well with the Worrall Travel R's in Warsaw, Poland