Princess Joy arrives in Krakow, Poland!!! Yesterday, as I got off the bus in my very crumpled pants I didn’t look anything like a princess, but when I saw the spectacular four star Hotel that I had booked myself into over the internet, I decided I must be J. Ohh wow!!! I am here for 4 nights and am so very excited!!! It is one of the most beautiful Hotel accommodations of my holiday. This morning’s breakfast even surpassed that of Prague & Vienna!!!! The Porter may have to push me out of the door on my last morning, as I am sure to shed a tear as I press the ‘stop’ button in the lift just so I can savour the last few moments of Hotel bliss.
I’m afraid Melinda and Ros not only taught me to shop better/faster/longer but they accustomed me to enjoy the pleasures of good accommodation. So, all my good intentions of staying in hostels with the poor people seem to have gone by the wayside. Surely THIS is the life I was born to live!!! And don’t all those real estate shows on TV talk about “Location, location”. Well halleluiah to the ‘location’ of this hotel!! I walk a mere 15 metres to the left of the Hotel entrance to step into the largest shopping centre I have seen in Europe so far!!! All my prayers have been answered!!!!
This afternoon I did think that I should walk a little further than the shopping centre; so I walked in the other direction (convinced myself it had to be done), and found the amazing Main City Square. Oh My God….plus thousands of people!!! I couldn’t work out whether there was a festival on or whether the street entertainment and mass of crowds was a usual Sunday thing. The atmosphere was amazing. And of course, heaps more churches, coloured buildings and cobbled streets for me to photograph J.
However, before I go on further about Krakow, I will just retrace my steps for the past two weeks. Briefly since my last email, Melinda, Ros and I spent 2 nights in Mostar (Bosnia), 4 nights in Dubrovnik (Croatia), 4 nights in Kotor (Montenegro), 1 night in Belgrade (Serbia) and after they flew back to Australia, I spent 4 nights in Budapest (Hungary) and am now in Krakow (Poland) for 4 nights. I am loving this country hopping!!!
Mostar was a cute little town in Bosnia. The main attraction of the town was an old stone bridge over the Neretva River. It is 20 metres high and local daredevils collect money from tourists to jump from the bridge into the cold river below. Surely there are safer ways to make money?? I wasn’t quick enough to capture a photo of the one guy we saw jump from the bridge, but I did get some photos of crazy young guys jumping off a smaller tower into the same river. That looked scary enough!
After Mostar we caught a bus to Dubrovnik. I loved Dubrovnik!! It rates highly as one of the most appealing cities I’ve visited on this trip, and certainly the best in Croatia. And after much taste testing we did discover that Dubrovnik also sold the best gelati in Croatia!! Of course it had nothing to do with the extra large scoops that the gelati store provided???
The ‘Old town’ of Dubrovnik is completely surrounded by 2km’s of stone walls. You can climb up steps to the top of the walls and then walk the 2 km’s around the town taking in the incredible views!! Melinda and I took so many photo stops as we walked the walls that it took us 3 hours to get completely around instead of the advertised 1 hour.
The old town was also full of narrow streets lined with fabulous little gift shops, with the most interesting window displays that COMPEL you to enter!!! It’s like this gravitational pull that sucks you into the shop. Then this magical spell came over me which coerced me to purchase three special little angels from three lovely little shops (because they were all very unique of course). Actually we (Mel, Ros & I) were all overcome by that magical ‘shopping’ spell ………and somehow it seemed to carry over into the next two towns/countries???
The narrow streets were also lined with wonderful restaurants which catered our evening meals. The atmosphere was wonderful.
From Dubrovnik we took a bus to Kotor, Montenegro. Ros had booked us into an absolutely amazing apartment with the most spectacular evening view of the Kotor Bay. The only downside was that it was a half an hour walk to get to the Old town. So we certainly got our daily exercise as we did the trip at least twice a day. Melinda also made us climb up the side of the mountain (1200m ascent via 1350 steps!!!) to get the best photographic views of the town. Again, I do have to admit, it was well worth the effort (but don’t tell her I said that).
Budva - town next to Kotor
Melinda and Ros would read their Lonely Planet guide & Eyewitness Travel book daily to see what the attractions were for each city and generally we would try and fit them all in (in between the eating and shopping??). It was strongly recommended to visit the Ostrog Monastery (which was about two hour’s drive away). So we excitedly booked a tour and off we went. Except our driver/guide couldn’t speak a word of English, so we still haven’t got a clue as to what we saw. He drove us there. We followed him into the Monastery. We looked around at all these dedicated pilgrims praying and rubbing noses with religious artifacts and handing over monetary donations; took a couple of photos (spending all of about half an hour there) and then drove the two hours back to Kotor. To make matters even worse, Melinda overlooked the part that said you had to wear long pants and we were the only three people out of hundreds of pilgrims there that were wearing shorts!!!
The only good thing to come out of the tour was Matt, a 35 year old pommie guy who was on the tour with us. Matt was on his own in Kotor for a week’s holiday while his girlfriend was in South America. Yes, shame about the girlfriend part and we all thought he was just lovely!! I think he was amused by the ‘three Aussies’ and ended up joining us for dinner that night. And of course became my latest Facebook friend J.
And then it was time to fly to Belgrade, Serbia. A flight we won’t be forgetting in a hurry!!! We turned up at the Airport for our scheduled 9.45am flight only to be taken off it, as they were reducing passengers due to strong winds. They probably saw how large my suitcase was, and figured the plane was never going to get off the ground??? Anyway, we weren’t going to let a small delay stop our enthusiasm. We did what any good female would do with spare time on their hands. We headed to the cafeteria for coffee and cake (only because the airport was too small and had only one shop)!!!
Then we finally got on the next plane flight at 12.30pm. However, as we were walking on the tarmac to the plane, the wind was so strong I had to help an old lady or she would have been blown over. A little wave of panic may have raised the hairs on the back of my neck!!! Even the ground staff on the tarmac were struggling to stand against the wind. I may have done a little sign of the cross as I walked up the stairs. As we sat down we could see that we were evenly spread around the plane and it was confirmed when the flight attendant asked us not to move from our designated seats!! They had also reduced passengers on this plane so there were many empty seats (lucky them I was thinking at this stage). And off we went down the runway, lifted off, and were then bounced around in the clouds for about half an hour!!! Just a little unnerving, to say the least!!! Thank God it was only an hour flight. And yes I thanked God many times over when we landed safely!!!
And then we were in Belgrade for our last day together and all Melinda and Ros wanted to do was shop because apparently they hadn’t purchased enough in the past 5 weeks????!!!!!!!! We checked into our room at the Hotel and as we were walking down the flight of stairs, I slipped on the marble steps (yes, another flashy Hotel) and fell down. All I can say is that I was most fortunate that we were going shopping because my ribs & elbow were cushioned by my leather handbag when I fell hard on the steps!!! Can’t say the same for my right thigh where I still have a nasty black bruise!! But in case you were wondering….of course it didn’t stop me from shopping!!!
And then it was time to say good-bye to my two wonderful travelling friends!!!!!! Last Tuesday Melinda and Ros flew home from Belgrade and I drove on to Budapest, Hungary….and the diet started!!!!!!!! HHmm, am not sure if eating pastries at breakfast falls under the concept of dieting, but my gelati/cake intake and size of evening meals have certainly reduced in the past week.
And yes of course I miss them. We had such a wonderful time together. We even bought “Tour T-Shirts” which we would wear in each City we visited. We would get lots of smiles as we walked around. Never too old to rediscover the inner child!!!!!!!!
Back again. Ros’s favourite thing was to ‘people watch’ (she was very observant of all their features and clothing) and then she would get very excited if we had a ‘sliding doors’ moment later that day or the next day where we would cross paths with the person again. Well, this morning at breakfast I thought I would do the same thing and take note of all the people in the room. As I looked them over (discreetly of course), I tried to work out what their life story might be, based on how they looked and what they were wearing. I took special interest in a middle aged man who was sitting alone. He had on a plain old brown jumper (which reminded me of a Lotus Glen Prison jumper) and faded old cargo pants. I thought to myself that he must be single as his wife surely wouldn’t let him out in public dressed like that.
Anyway, I was doing an organised tour this morning and as I entered the Hotel foyer to wait for the tour guide, who should be sitting there but the boring brown jumper guy! And who should then start having a conversation with me – you guessed it – BBJG (boring brown jumper guy). And the first thing he said was that he was not only on this tour with me, but apparently he had been on the same day tour as me yesterday!!!! Gosh, he must have been wearing even plainer clothes yesterday and blended into the bus, because I didn’t notice him at all???
He then sat across from me on the tour bus and continued to chat. He said he was a professional ‘celebrity’ photographer (which is obviously why he noticed me yesterday…he could see my future potential??) and for a few minutes I got very excited. But the excitement wore thin when for the next 30 minutes he proceeded to tell me how great and special he was. BBJG soon became known to me as a new acronym - FIGJAM (F*ck I’m Good Just Ask Me). He then showed me one of his favourite photos on his camera that he took on the previous day’s tour. I did smile silently to myself as I had taken the same shot and thought mine was even better!!!
Thankfully I was saved by Bob, an old Canadian guy, who decided I was his NBF (new best friend) and followed me around the whole tour (leaving FIGJAM to wander on his own). However, I’m beginning to think I’ve become an OMM (Old Man Magnet)!!!!!!!!!! Where are all the single guys in their 40’s????????????? It is not a huge ask!!!!!!!!!!!! Bob wanted to catch up for dinner, but I opted out for fear that he was going to take me to the local RSL club.
Hopefully I will have more luck tomorrow as this evening I found another hairdresser (at my now favourite shopping centre) who cut and coloured my hair. I am once again looking youthful and beautiful (?!!), so surely I will be noticed by someone other than a pensioner???
Oops, Back again. Promise I will finish this off this time. I’ve just popped into the Hotel room for a tiny rest as my back is sore from all the walking I’ve done today. I found another Bell Tower to climb this morning. 239 steps this time!! But oh wow..what a view!! Worth every step!! Before I climbed up I thought I should do a quick toilet stop. Wanted to avoid the urge to go half way up. If I counted how much money I have spent on going to public toilets in the last 5 months, I think I could have purchased my very own portaloo, with the truck to drive it around in!!! I was amused at the sign that was up in today’s toilet. Quite discriminatory actually! Men who used the urinal only had to pay half the amount of those that wanted to sit down! What is with that!!!! .50 Polish Zolty’s (their money) for a number one and 1 Polish Zolty for number twos!!!
Okay, Okay, that’s it!!! I will leave the photos and description about Budapest & Krakow until the next email or you will need a week to finish reading this.
I hope all is great with you. Only 4 weeks and three days and I will be home!!!!!!! Just a few more cities and countries to squeeze in first.
Love Joy xxxxxxxxxxxxx