travel

Croatian colors…

We slept really well last night after enjoying the fireplace all evening. I ended up turning on The Crown, which I’ve already seen in its entirety. Bill hasn’t seen all of it, and it’s a very entertaining series. Makes me glad I didn’t cancel Netflix.

I was hoping to visit the lakes today, but you have to buy tickets a day in advance. So Bill ordered the tickets. Then I learned about Krka National Park, which is about 90 minutes away by car. Unfortunately, the tickets for that park were sold out for Sunday. I guess we have a reason to come back for another visit!

We ended up having a really nice lunch at a local restaurant– fresh trout for me and pork skewers for Bill. Then we took a drive and I got some photos of the magnificent fall foliage. The trees are in full autumn glory right now. As long as the weather is good tomorrow, I think we will have a great visit. And since the Krka Park is sold out on Sunday, maybe we’ll visit the Plitvice Lakes again on Sunday. The caretaker of our accommodations says that two days is a good idea. I believe him, since there are so many lakes to see.

Speaking of the caretaker. He and his wife of 56 years live across the lane and have been there since 1968. Bill went over to ask about firewood and ended up being invited to drink brandy. Bill called me, and I went over and joined them. We visited for awhile, drinking homemade plum brandy and Turkish coffee. We also had cookies.

The guy used to be a pilot for the Yugoslavian Army… or whatever branch flew planes. He said he’s been all over the place. Bill, of course, bonded with him over the military. We talked about our travels and our families… all of it done in halting English and a smattering of German and Croatian. It was really nice… I love it when we have authentic travel experiences and bond with locals when we travel. Somehow, we always manage to meet people when we go places… and oftentimes, I end up with a story to tell or write. I also enjoy talking to elderly people. They always have amazing stories to share.

After our visit, the caretaker’s wife came over and got us some more wood. Then she built a huge fire for us!

I’m already looking forward to writing the travel blog for this trip. I may have to start before we go home, since this is a long journey. I have noticed this area is loaded with vacation homes and apartments, as well as hotels and restaurants But right now, a lot of things are closed, including a lot of restaurants. There are caves nearby that I wouldn’t mind visiting, but I think they will close for the season on November 1. I’ll bet in the spring and summer, this area is full of tourists.

Makes me glad we came in late October… it’s a lot quieter right now. I also wish I was a lot thinner. Maybe I’d go on one of the riding excursions and relive my adolescence. Ah hell, I wish I was a lot thinner just because… but I also would love to ride a horse again. I probably could, but I have too much empathy for the poor horse. Anyway, I guess I just want to say that I recommend Croatia in the fall. Especially, if your holiday digs have a fireplace and firewood.

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News, politicians, politics, travel

Do letters to the editor ever sway your vote?

Well, we’re now in Croatia. Our hosts had a nice fire ready for us, but the house is still a bit chilly. I think we’re going to like it here, though… it’s in the middle of the country, with lots of beautiful views and plenty of peace and quiet. It took us about seven hours total to get here from Wels, because we were stuck at the Croatian border for a short while. We had to stamp out of Slovenia and into Croatia. They didn’t seem too concerned about our vaccines, but they did want to see passports.

We had lunch at a truck stop. The food was very good… in fact, I was delighted by how tasty it was. I am full enough now that I think we’ll just stay in and watch Netflix by the roaring fireplace.

On our way over the mountain to the house where we’re staying, I decided to read the letters to the editor in my hometown’s newspaper. As Election Day is approaching, the letters were all about the people running for local office. Since Gloucester, Virginia is a conservative town, most of the letters were bitching about how awful Joe Biden is and how Virginia needs to vote for Glenn Youngkin for governor and for all of the conservative candidates. I think I saw one letter for the lefties…

As I was reading, I wondered how many people rely on letters to the editor to help them choose the person they wish to cast a vote for on Election Day. I will admit, there are often local candidates I don’t know anything about, especially since I now vote in Texas absentee. But when it comes to the governor, or the president, or other higher ranking folks, I usually have a good idea of who my choice will be before I hit the polls (or by the time I get my ballot). I figure anyone who is going to take the time to read letters to the editor are probably not the ones who are undecided. It’s the ones who don’t read who may need assistance. But really, even those people should be allowed to choose without too much harassment.

The people of Gloucester are, by and large, pretty good people. They’re salt of the Earth types… especially the ones who have lived there for many years. Unfortunately, a lot of them vote for parties over people. From what I’ve heard about Glenn Youngkin, he has very conservative values, but is trying to suppress them. If he is elected governor, he’s going to do everything he can to overturn everything Ralph Northam has done. I think Northam has done some really amazing things. But I am no longer a Virginia resident, so all I can do is watch from the sidelines.

Anyway… I just wonder why people bother writing letters to the editor in newspapers. How many people even bother to read newspapers anymore? I get a kick out of the Gazette Journal, because that was my HOMETOWN paper, when I was growing up. It only comes out once a week, but it has all the local news. And since I still know a lot of people in Gloucester, it’s fun to read. But I do have to sigh when I read some of the conservative and extremely religious views… even as I also find them interesting and kind of entertaining.

I didn’t like Gloucester when I was a kid, but I can see now why people stay there. It does have a lot going for it. And once you’re accepted, as I finally was after a year or two, the people can be very good. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can go “home” again. I do have a lot of memories, there, though. Many of them are good… and some are not so good.

Well, this is our first time staying in Croatia, so this should be an interesting trip. On Monday, we’ll move on to Slovenia, which is one place we’ve been to a couple of times. Unlike a lot of people, we didn’t come to Croatia for the coastal towns. We’re here to see Plitvice Lakes, which I’ve been wanting to visit for years. The fall colors are beautiful, so I expect I will have some gorgeous photos… as long as the weather holds.

Hopefully, the good people of Gloucester… and the Commonwealth of Virginia… will get the best leaders on Election Day. I hope they don’t get dragged back to 1950, though. I’m sure most of the people I still know in Virginia know who will be getting their votes by now.

The fireplace in this house rocks.

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travel

Off to Croatia today…

The featured photo is the view from our hotel room as the sun was setting… It about suits the mood of Wels.

Our second day in Wels was interesting. We tasted some Austrian wines, walked around the city, and ate some fabulous Greek food. Then last night, we ended up in an Irish pub, where the proprietor seemed to be trying to cater to our musical needs.

The pub was very small and, like all of the other buildings we’ve been in in Wels, had very thick walls and a cavernous kind of look. I love the ancient effect, but forget trying to use a cell phone. For about an hour, we were the only ones sitting in the very dark back of the bar. The guy turned on some of the lights, including the electric dart board and the TV, which he eventually tuned to South Park.

Then, after a few pretty horrifying songs on the sound system, to include a very profane number by Eminem, a classic Hall & Oates song came on called “You Make My Dreams”. Bill asked me what year the song came out. I said 1981… maybe 1980. Sure enough, the next song was “The Best That You Can Do (Arthur’s Theme)” from the movie Arthur (1981). We enjoyed the first half of that song before they changed it to “Locomotive Breath” by Jethro Tull. Then, we were back to rowdy Irish music by The Pogues.

I can’t say it was the most authentic Irish pub I’ve ever been to. Aside from the weird music, they also only offered candy bars for snacks. But it was fun to sit in a bar and watch a bunch of college aged Austrian guys shoot darts while we drank Guinness. It was actually kind of exciting to watch them. I feel like it wasn’t that long ago that I was that young. They looked like they could have been my sons. :'( But still, it’s fun to watch guys that age competing with each other. Their energy is infectious.

Sadly, my guts are still recovering from the nitrogen.

Oh… and I saw at least two young women urgently run for the toilet. I know how that goes. I’m not sure which end was about to explode, but I felt for them. I’ve been where they were. As we were leaving, the bartender asked us where we were from. I think he knew damned well that we are Americans. The real question was, what the hell were we doing in Wels? We told him we live in Germany. Wels isn’t a remarkable town, but it’s very pleasant and pretty. It’s not a bad place to stop in Austria. The last couple of days remind me of when I randomly got off a train in St. Polten, Austria, in 1997, and hung out there for three days while I made my way to meet friends in Zilina, Slovakia.

We probably should have made more of an attempt to visit museums and such yesterday, but honestly, it was just nice to be in a new town and walk around. Wels is definitely not a bad place to rest for a day or two. Don’t know if I’ll be back, but now I can cross it off the list of Austrian towns I’ve seen.

I am looking forward to getting to Croatia tonight.

One other thing… USAA called me last night and Tuesday night about my complaints regarding their tendency to block my credit and debit cards when I try to use them. I had to explain, once again, that they don’t allow international phone numbers for texts anymore. The person who called me didn’t seem to know. Something bad is happening to their customer service. It’s like they’re going through the motions. I might have to write a letter. Or maybe I’ll just blog and let their reputation management people stalk me so I can make a few pennies in ad revenue.

Well, so ends my brief recap of yesterday. Maybe, if the Internet is good, I’ll start travel blogging in Croatia, and there will be many pictures.

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travel

We’re in Wels…

We got here yesterday afternoon, not knowing that it was Austrian National Day, which is a holiday. Consequently, a lot of places were closed… but that was okay, since we just wanted to walk around the area and see everything. This is a pretty town, not too far into Austria and about halfway to tomorrow’s destination in Croatia from our home in Germany. I don’t think Wels is known for being a tourist mecca, but they do have catfish here. That’s something I just learned yesterday.

Arran and Noyzi are at the dog hotel. Noyzi was absolutely delighted to be there, but Arran looked a little sad. Poor guy is getting too old for dog hotels. He’d rather be with us. But we told Natasha, who takes care of them, that it’s okay if they aren’t together all the time. I have a feeling that being stuck with Noyzi is a big part of it. Arran has gotten to like Noyzi more, but he’s much older and smaller than Noyzi is. It’s like grandpa and teen boy sharing a room.

We’ll be here until tomorrow… our hotel offers us the opportunity to borrow a goldfish if we’re lonely for our dogs. Too weird!

Last night, we walked around the old part of Wels and ended up having dinner at a hole in the wall Italian restaurant. It’s lucky we got there early, because they were very busy. A young couple sat next to us. I caught the male half eyeballing us. Bill noticed, too. I suspect it was because he noticed that I had no fewer than three Apple gadgets… a watch, a phone, and my iPad. I used the iPad to take a photo of Bill, because my phone was dying.

Then, when the food came out, we noticed he and his girlfriend shared a pizza and they had a round of drinks. Bill had veal and I had shrimp, both of which came with side vegetables and a salad. The guy kind of obviously noticed that, too. Then they had dessert. We didn’t have dessert there, because it was so busy and we figured they wanted their table back. As we were walking back to the hotel with gelato, we talked about that couple. We noticed the guy looked a little jealous.

I wanted to tell him that, for the first five years of our marriage, we were totally broke, too. We know how it is. But then, he also might have been wondering what the hell Americans are doing in a place like Wels, instead of Vienna or Salzburg, or even Innsbruck. Or maybe he thought we were too old and fat for such a nice meal. Anyway, it’s none of my business, and I don’t like to mindread. It was just obvious that he noticed us. That’s mainly because the tables were close together. It’s a small place with a tiny dining room.

We decided to come back to the hotel after dinner. We watched TV, including a show about paramedics in different parts of Germany. I was surprised I could understand some of it. I probably should watch move TV in German.

I’m not sure what we will do today. There is a therme (spa) near us, but it looks very kid friendly. When I go to the spa, I like to relax. There’s also a pretty cool looking science museum we might visit. The lovely thing about Austria is that COVID-19 restrictions are pretty lax here. In fact, for those who are vaccinated, they don’t even require masks for most indoor stuff. You have to wear them on public transportation, in pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes, and supermarkets. But other than that, it’s like 2019 again.

This is why I was so eager to leave Germany for awhile… 😉

I’ll probably write some brief travel stories here, so it’ll be easier to write my travel blogs. I like to include stories, especially since we aren’t that big on doing touristy stuff anymore. But I do love to share stories about the people we meet, things we see, and our wacky experiences on the road. And, if I get excited, I’m sure there will be ranting, too.

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travel

Back from our trip to the Schwarzwald…

And I have spent all day writing about it on my travel blog, so I need to take a day to come up with something to write about on this blog. I may be back later today, but I suspect I’ll just write tomorrow, when I’m nice and fresh. There’s a lot I could write about… everything from Afghanistan to the guy who is suing Nirvana over his baby picture being used on the cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. I could also write about manipulative behavior, of which I have a lot of experience combatting.

But… the truth is, I just don’t feel like it today. The proverbial well is dry, and it’s about time to feed the dogs their evening victuals. So come back tomorrow… or stop by the travel blog if you want to. The link is at the top of the page.

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