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Postcards: Stari Grad Dubrovnik (HR)

To spend only approximately 36 hours in Dubrovnik is too short, especially when this time frame translates sub-optimally to 1.5 days of activity time. We saw the old town in a rather cursory manner, without additional time to understand the culture, to visit any museum, to admire churches and their hidden compounds, and to explore the coastline by kayak.

Stari Grad Dubrovnik

Stari Grad Dubrovnik

But hey, we had not intended to visit Dubrovnik initially either. It was through a stroke of luck (and flight arrangement) that we ended up here. It gave us a taster of what it could be like and teased us to return, sooner rather than later. We do not yet know when that may be, but we will relish it when the next opportunity jumps at us.

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The walls of Dubrovnik

We travelled to Montenegro by way of Dubrovnik, thanks to reasonably priced air tickets that were half the price of those to Podgorica. Quite naturally, we opted to spend the final day of our trip in Dubrovnik before flying home, so we won’t be at the mercy of some long-distance and cross-border public bus while racing to the airport to catch our flight. More importantly, we were glad things worked out the way it did because we absolutely love the stari grad Dubrovnik!

Dubrovnik city wall

Dubrovnik city wall

Having arrived later than expected on Friday (due to wrong timetable found on the internet, plus further delays because of heavy traffic and slow border crossing) we decided we would make the most of our full day on Saturday by starting very early in the morning. By that, I meant 6am early. And even then, it was already a little late to catch the sunrise by the time we were out the door!

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The ruins of Stari Bar

Our final morning in Montenegro (already!?), we packed our bag and were glad to leave the dingy and increasingly humid cave apartment, which had been letting water seeping in through one of the walls after nearly an entire day (and night) of rain. It was barely 8am but the right time to catch a bus to Bar, where we would take another bus at 1.30pm to get to Dubrovnik. It also meant we had a few hours to kill, and Stari Bar seemed like a good option.

Stari Bar

Stari Bar

Bar derived and shortened its name from the word Antibari(um), given its location just opposing the Italian town of Bari across the Adriatic Sea. There are regular sea crossings between Bari and Bar for anyone wishing to hop between Italy and Montenegro! The port/coastal side of Bar is newer, built and favoured following destructions of an important aqueduct that used to feed into the Stari Bar, or the Old Bar. Unlike most towns where the newer parts are built surrounding the historic centre, Stari Bar and modern Bar sit a good 5-6 kilometres apart, the former at the foot of Mount Rumija and the latter by the seafront.

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In search of the Walnut Valley

You may have noticed that we’ve been very active throughout our trip in Montenegro, and our second day in Lake Skadar was no different. We had had a hike to the Walnut Valley scheduled and booked with Ben, but due to forecasted storm on the next day, he had to bring forward another excursion and our walk was cancelled. Moreover, another couple who were supposed to be on the walk with us decided to rescind their booking, effectively left us with less than minimum number of persons required.

Walnut Valley

Walnut Valley

Nonetheless, understanding that we’d still like to give the walk a go on our own, Ben stopped by our cave apartment with a map and instruction on how to locate the trail ourselves. Armed with these two pieces of paper, we set out for the Walnut Valley, in the direction of Dupilo.

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The medieval town of Kotor

Between the very early start in the morning to catch our flight, and the heat that we were yet unaccustomed to, F and I struggled to stay awake during the hour-long bus ride from Herceg Novi to Kotor. I think I gave in to a few minutes of nap but as I jolted awake, I looked out the window in amazement. The Bay of Kotor was breathtakingly beautiful.

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro

A World Heritage Site, Kotor sits at the farthest pocket of the bay, backed by steep, rocky and grey mountains on its rear. Its medieval centre is enclosed within impressive city walls, filled with small streets that form a labyrinth of sort, and perfect for exploration by foot. Having been under the Venetian rules for several centuries, traces of this old empire are easily, most notably the relief of the winged lion at multiple locations within the stari grad.

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Postcards: Herceg Novi (ME)

Our summer vacation this year is broken into two parts; the first, a shorter trip to Montenegro, and the second, a slightly longer one to Italy later next month so I can also attend one of my best friends’ wedding. We flew in and out of Dubrovnik, given reasonably-priced flights in comparison to those into Montenegro, and we were not that far away from the border. We arrived in Herceg Novi within the hour after our plane landed, which included crossing border controls that sit strategically with a view of the Adriatic sea. Not too shabby a workplace.

Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi

We had not intended to be in Herceg Novi initially, but due to transportation scheduling etc (long story and I won’t bore you with the details), we found ourselves with a few hours to quickly explore this coastal town that sits near the entrance of the Bay of Kotor. We deposited our luggage at the main bus station for a small price of €2, took the street past the adjacent cafés that leads downhill, and reached the Nikola Ðurković’s Square after a few minutes walk. Standing before us, the city gate with a clock tower that is the threshold to cross to get into the old town.

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Postcards: Sun, sea, sand in Bretagne Nord (FR)

We were back in Brittany, greeted by sunshine and what promised to be quite an active weekend. Because it was (sort of) summer, we were obviously obliged to go to the beach. We checked out a couple of them: one where the boys attempted to surf – C picked up this new hobby while in Brazil, and F was trying it out for the first time – in the rather chilly water of less than 20°C (brrrrr!), and one where I put on my baby step to swimming in the ocean, ahead of our vacation in Montenegro.

Bretagne Nord

Bretagne Nord

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101 Goals: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

I thought I’d start easy on my 101 goals challenge – item number 75. I’m not doing it for the purpose of being able to boast how many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited, but rather, I’m curious at which I have visited. Truth be told, as I don’t search for sites under this listing to visit in the first place, I have not even realise some of them are on it, until now! (The photo below is the only one I can find among thousands of my photos that marks the recognition of such site.)

UNESCO's recognition of Þingvellir

As of today, there are 962 sites listed altogether, and my travels have brought me to 35 of them. Some of them have just been visited recently, i.e. during my blogging lifetime, and therefore have been written up (when I wasn’t being lazy about it), others were visited when I was (much) younger that I really had to think hard if I’ve been there or if I confused it with something else, e.g. I visited a palace in Vienna but was it on-the-list Schönbrunn or off-the-list Hofburg?

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The Ultimate Travel Challenge

What is the challenge?

I have been challenged – to travel 100 countries before one of my friends/competitors (read: Dave or Miriam) does! This is not going to be easy since I have the tendency to return to places/countries that I really like. Must. Go. Somewhere. Else.

Rules: (1) only the 192 UN member countries (as per start of this challenge in 2007) are eligible, (2) a transit at the airport doesn’t count, (3) at least one overnight stay plus some sightseeing, and (4) “midterm target” of 50 countries before we turn 40.

Note of 2012: Lately though, with the bigger-than-ever presence of real life (career, family etc), we are made very aware of how idealistic our dream was. We love to travel, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking we’re some kind of intrepid globetrotters! Should we call it off? Should we change the rule? Should we make it “40 by 40”?

 

How am I doing so far?

I’m charting this from the point when I hold my first international passport.

Visited Country Map 2017

1998 – 5 (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Ireland, UK-Wales)
1999 – 5 (note UK-England)
2000 – 8 (+ France, Germany, Austria)
2001 – 10 (+ Italy, Spain)
2002 – 10 (no new country travelled)
2003 – 10 (note UK-Northern Ireland)
2004 – 11 (+ Czech Republic)
2005 – 12 (+ Australia)
2006 – 14 (+ Sweden, USA; note UK-Scotland)
2007 – 15 (+ Canada)
2008 – 17 (+ Belgium, Netherlands)
2009 – 17 (no new country travelled)
2010 – 18 (+ UAE)
2011 – 21 (+ Monaco, Luxembourg, Sri Lanka)
2012 – 25 (+ Iceland, Slovenia, Croatia, Switzerland)
2013 – 27 (+ Greece, Indonesia)
2014 – 29 (+ Montenegro, China)
2015 – 31 (+ Denmark, Portugal)
2016 – 33 (+ Bulgaria, Jordan)
2017 – 36 (+ Egypt, Mauritius, Japan)

 

How about a little continental break-down?

Europe is the best travelled so far, and sadly I have not yet been to South America and have travelled very little of Africa…

Africa (2)
Algeria | Angola | Benin | Botswana | Burkina Faso | Burundi | Cameroon | Cape Verde | Central African Republic | Chad | Comoros | Congo, Republic of the | Côte d’Ivoire | Democratic Republic of the Congo | Djibouti | Egypt | Equatorial Guinea | Eritrea | Ethiopia | Gabon | Gambia | Ghana | Guinea | Guinea-Bissau | Kenya | Liberia | Libyan Arab Jamahiriya | Madagascar | Malawi | Mali | Mauritania | Mauritius | Morocco | Mozambique | Lesotho | Namibia | Niger | Nigeria | Rwanda | Sao Tome and Principe | Senegal | Seychelles | Sierra Leone | Somalia | South Africa | Sudan | Swaziland | Togo | Tunisia | Uganda | United Republic of Tanzania | Zambia | Zimbabwe

Asia (9)
Afghanistan | Armenia | Azerbaijan | Bahrain | Bangladesh | Bhutan | Brunei Darussalam | Cambodia | China | Democratic People’s Republic of Korea | India | Indonesia | Iran, Islamic Republic of | Iraq | Israel | Japan | Jordan | Kazakhstan | Krygyzstan | Kuwait | Lao People’s Democratic Republic | Lebanon | Malaysia | Maldives | Mongolia | Myanmar | Nepal | Oman | Pakistan | Philippines | Qatar | Republic of Korea | Russian Federation | Saudi Arabia | Singapore | Sri Lanka | Syrian Arab Republic | Tajikistan | Thailand | Timor-Leste | Turkey | Turkmenistan | United Arab Emirates | Uzbekistan | Vietnam | Yemen

Australasia / Oceania (1)
Australia | Fiji | Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Micronesia, Federated States of | Nauru | New Zealand | Palau | Papua New Guinea | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu

Europe (22)
Albania | Andorra | Austria | Belarus | Belgium | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Cyprus | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Ireland | Italy | Latvia | Liechtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Monaco | Montenegro | Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Republic of Moldova | Romania | San Marino | Serbia | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland | The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia | Ukraine | United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland |

North America (2)
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama| Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago | United States of America

South America
Argentina | Bolivia | Brazil | Chile | Colombia | Ecuador | Guyana | Paraguay | Peru | Suriname | Uruguay | Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of

 

Page last updated: 22 December 2017

 


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