Here are some more Gaping Void winners I came across in my constant love-hate battle with the Corporate World (quite negative today, but take it with a pinch of salt and a good chuckle):
Pula is a very cute city. Right at the Southern tip of Istria, it is Istria’s largest city and bosts some pretty decent Roman Ruins and a Roman amphitheatre that dominates the town centre and is often used for concerts and events.
It has a very Italian feel and was a fabulous place to start our Istrian adventure. I had my first taste of real Italian ice cream (oh my holy soul, it was delicious) and the pizza perfectly made by an Italian mama in the kitchen I’m sure (Jupiter Restaurant).
It is a busy commercial city and there are no beaches in the city, but a good visit nonetheless.
We hired a car from here to drive around Istria, so were only there for a day.
We stayed at the Hotel Riviera, a very grand-looking hotel just outside the city centre. The white net curtains were a faded shade of grey, and Victorian-style red carpets were well used, to say the least. When we saw the long, cold corridors and padded room doors, it was a bit uncertain if this was a hotel or a mental institution, and very much reminded me of The Shining , so really was quite a thrill!
When we asked the car hire salesman if the roads are safe, he said “Of course” and shrugged, saying “Much like Turkey”. Four sets of big scared eyes left that office on a suicide mission through the narrow roads of Istria, in the hopes of staying alive long enough to taste some truffles and have a glass of Istrian wine.
The first destination of my Croatian holiday was the Plitvice Lakes in Central Croatia – Croatia’s biggest national park and a World Heritage site.
It was an absolute must-see for my trip to Croatia, especially after seeing pictures of this park beforehand, but as with any other World Heritage site, it was absoultely flooded with tourists. I have a slight case of touristaphobia, so one day in the park was enough for me. It was such a shame, actually, because I could have spent another day at least wandering around those beautiful waterfalls and lakes but the tour groups and crowds (and lack of a resemblance of decent food) definitely ruined it for me.
The park was really amazing though, and the day that we spent there was overcast and drizzly, so there was a gorgeous misty, dreamy look to the lakes and waterfalls. It gave it an almost mystical feel that was really special (until you were trodden on by a screaming Italian anklebiter).
Feast your eyes on these pics… (none of my photos have been filtered or colour enhanced – they are all the natural colours as you see it there)…
There are 3 hotels at the entrance to Entrance 2 of the Lakes. You can book beforehand at a Plitvice Tourist Office if you need to. There is also apparently accomodation in one of the villages near Entrance 1 (Rastovaca), but you would need to walk through the village to find houses with a “Zimmer” sign and enquire about this – you can’t book beforehand.
We opted for the pre-booked hotel option (due to a marathon being run that weekend through the park) and it was decent. We stayed in the Bellevue hotel (there is no decent website for them – you will need to book at a Plitvice tourist office). It was relatively cheap and simple, the staff not so friendly and the breakfast was almost edible.
There are not a lot of eating options in the park and you would need to eat at a hotel if you want an actual meal, but this really wasn’t particularly tasty or edible, really.
You can get to the Lakes by bus quite easily. I know that there were buses every 3 hours from Zagreb and there were also regular ones to and from Split. To get to Istria from Plitvice, you would need to take a bus from Plitvice to Karlovac (a stop along the Zagreb route) and then another bus to Pula.
I will not go into the whole saga that left me stranded in Frankfurt on the way home from Croatia, “courtesy” of Lufthansa Airlines, but nevertheless ended up with a day to kill in Frankfurt.
Being Germany’s financial centre, I didn’t expect much, but had a lot of time to wait until my flight back home to Jozi, so spent the day wandering the streets in Frankfurt. It turned out to be such a lovely city and I am glad that I had the opportunity to see it in between airport dramas.
The transport system is impeccable, the streets clean and the architecture really beautiful. There are plenty of museums and cafes, and a stroll along the river Main was really pleasant. The Jewish museum is quite interesting and devotes itself to portraying the history of Jewish communities in Frankfurt and Germany, complete with photos of the old Jewish quarters between the 15th and 18th century. LOVE city pics of the big cities way back in the day and comparing it to what it looks like today.
The main bridge in Frankfurt, the Eiserner Steg Bridge, is covered with gorgeous little “love locks” – where sweethearts affix padlocks to bridge railings to symbolise their everlasting love…sweet!
All in all, it was a really lovely city to experience, even though it was under rather unpleasant circumstances!
I would not suggest flying Lufthansa at all, especially if in Alliance with SAA. Every flight I had with them there was some sort of big issue and my baggage was lost twice (still waiting for them to find it).
If you do decide to travel with them from Johannesburg into Europe, fly via Munich as there are more daily flights between Munich and JHB in case you miss your connection.
The train leaves from the Airport Terminal 1 in Frankfurt airport and goes straight into Frankfurt city centre. Choose the ‘Frankfurt Hbf’ option for your ticket.
Well peeps, today I leave Croatia and I believe that I am quite ready to come home now.
It has been a fantastic holiday an a very well-needed break from my day-to-day life. Food, wine, truffles, beach, sleep, rockclimbing, biking, buses buses buses, caffe. That would be the short version 🙂
I will start creating my Croatia blog posts as soon as I am back, with lots of photos etc. and some useful info for travellers, so be prepared for those – I really look forward to it! I decided that I would have no tech on this trip and I must admit that it has been killing me softly, so I will have LOTS to say about everything I experienced as it is all ready and waiting in my head.
I was sitting in the square in Zagreb this morning, after a disasterous attempt at a Mysore yoga class and a feel-better Nutella pancake, reflecting on my trip and how I feel about coming home. I then realised that Toto´s Africa was playing out of one of the caffe bars and I realised how much I love South Africa. (That damn song always plays at the right moment – usually the cheesiest time possible)
Amazing food, wine, beaches, mountains, weather, culture and most importantly…friendly people! We really are so spoilt in our country and sometimes it takes a trip elsewhere to make you realise that again.
So now I am looking forward to some sushi, English-speaking people, my homemade gourmet salad lunches, a bubble bath, my own home and my wine rack.
So I arrived in Zagreb, eventually, but my baggage did not. I had quite a crazy morning screeching through the airport like a mad woman to try to catch my connecting flight to Zagreb after my first flight was delayed. Poor Munich airport did not see me coming!
Well I am here. After a much-needed shower, we hit the streets of the city for some quality cafe time. The city is littered with cafe´s where you just sit and relax and people-watch. (By the way, I have watched the Croatian men and they are delicious!)
Speaking of delicious, it is also strawberry season and these babies are the juiciest and sweetest you have ever tasted…yum!
Off to Plitvice Lakes tomorrow (after a quick yoga class in Croatian – should be interesting), which is the number 1 must-see of Croatia, so that will be lovely.
That is it for now, mainly because I cant find any damned punctuation on this Croatian keyboard and I dont need stress on my holiday. *smiley face*
Til next time…
One more sleep until I leave for Croatia! I am quite stressed about the whole thing, although I know that I am actually ready for it. There’s just something about independant travel that gives you that extra buzz of nerves. I don’t know – could be the whole not having booked anywhere to stay and just winging it, not really sure 😉
I’m armed with my Lonely Planet book on Croatia, and having had a brief little visit to the Thorn Tree forum on their site, I do have a bit of an idea of where I’m going, how I’m getting around and how much I can expect to spend (ah crap, just realised I need to transfer some money still…). I’m a big Lonely Planet fan, and between their site, books, blogs and traveller forums, I think that they absolutely provide the best support for independant travel! Maybe one day I will write for them…hmmmm…or photograph for Lonely Planet Images.
I am packed (just about) and ready. Just have to fit this small pile of clothes into a backpack and do some bon voyage kisses.
I’m not taking my Blackberry and am completely removing myself from the world as I know it for 2 weeks. I will probably start having withdrawal symptoms and hunt down an internet cafe every now and then for a quick-fix blog post, so I’m not making any promises just yet!
If I don’t come back, please just assume that I have found a beautiful Croatian husband and am sipping cocktails and eating truffles in his seaside villa. Or more likely, I lost a day and missed my flight.
I am in the rat race. There…I admit it. Corporate Schmorporate. One day you will hopefully see a blog post here about how I went on to do my own thing and how I am insanely happy doing something that I love for a living, that brings me constant fulfilment…but for now I will just have a little moan and a laugh.
I came across this artist online – Hugh MacLeod, and his website called “Gaping Void“. His cartoons had me in hysterics. I’ve put together some of my favourite stabs at the corporate world in my current cynical state for you to enjoy.
All of these cartoons are from Gaping Void.
Being in a bit of an odd place in my life at the moment, I sometimes find myself having ‘Aha’ moments with very small things that come my way.
I thought I’d share a few of those – maybe you’ll have an ‘Aha’ moment out of one of these too.
(You can find the origin of the images on my pinterest page here)