Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | February 25, 2014

Final adventures in Istanbul

The final few days in Istanbul were somewhat of a Groundhog Day of repeating experiences, interspersed with a few unique ones. The first expedition to the Grand Bazaar was early in the morning. PATP arrived just as many of the stalls were opening, and were surprised by how well organised everything appeared. Stall holders displayed their wares on tables and scarves and clothing were folded – compared to the souks in Morocco which PATP had seen and were expecting, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was like a department store. After some preliminary research on just how much stuff they wanted to buy and how much they could carry home, PATP returned several more times, being fussy over exactly which colour combination they wanted in lamps (Pablo), which spice set they would try get past Australian customs (Pamplemousse), what size and pattern ceramic bowls, how many Turkish coffee pots they should buy, whether they should buy cups  too , etc. For fairness, PATP also wandered through several other bazaars – the spice bazaar, the wedding dress and fabric bazaar, the electrical odds and sods bazaar, the tourist souvenir bazaar.

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar

PATP also did quite a bit of urban hiking too. Walking along the waters edge from Sultanahmet to the bridge over the Golden Horne, they witnessed people swimming and fishing, and watched the ferries crossing the Bosphorus to the Asian side of the city, before getting to another large mosque near the bridge, the New Mosque – “new” being a relative term in a city with this much history having been completed in 1663. Walking across the bridge over the Golden Horn, PATP noticed all the people fishing off the bridge, trying to catch their dinner. Given the number of people fishing there it is unlikely that any fish remain, but it still seemed to be the thing to do.

Fishing on the Galata bridge

Fishing on the Galata bridge

PATP caught the funicular railway up to to Istiklal street in the new town of Istanbul. Istiklal is the main pedestrian mall in modern Istanbul, lined with fashionable shops, cafes, bars and restaurant along it and down every side street. Every few shops there was another candy store filled with sweet aromas, many flavours of Turkish delight and free samples. Trays and trays of colourful and tempting sweets.  PATP tried Turkish delight in pistachio, rosewater, mint, pomegranate, strawberry and orange – just to name a few. And of course, they HAD to buy some Turkish delight and nougat varieties to take with them.

Turkish confectionary - yum!

Turkish confectionary – yum!

At the end of the street is Taksim square, a huge open area centred on a monument to Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. While there were plenty of people around, just going about their daily business, there were also hundreds of riot police and their vehicles, just standing around waiting. Despite asking a few people why, PATP couldn’t get any sort of reason why there would be a few hundred police just hanging around. Not until several months later anyway, when huge protests kicked off in Turkey against development in and near the square, which quickly morphed into anti government riots after the police beat up some protestors. Ahh, so that’s why the police were there!

None of that was happening while PATP were there however, just shopping, dinner and heading to a couple of bars. Having enjoyed themselves doing this, PATP then decided they had to repeat the experience again a couple of times due to the vast number of delicious restaurants and fancy bars in the new town of Istanbul.

Amongst the one off experiences, PATP decided to  venture to Asia. Given that Istanbul is the only city to sit on two continents this is a fairly easy ferry ride. Well it was easy once they had boarded the boat anyway.  Getting onto the boat was not so simple as the makeshift bridge – which was simply a plank of wood between the pier and the boat – operated like a see-saw, such that when the man in front of PATP stepped onto the boat, the bridge flipped up, knocking the Pamplemousse onto the ground and bruising her knee. Once in Asia, PATP took a stroll through the Kadikoy market there, contemplated buying a sheep head or two, before instead having coffee and lunch and walking along the shore for the view back to Europe.

Mmmm, tasty.

Mmmm, tasty.

The final rainy morning of their 17 month adventure PATP went for one final walk through the streets of Sultanahmet, took a last few pics and got their shuttle to the airport for the flight back home.

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | January 29, 2014

Fairy chimneys, underground cities and cisterns

The next morning PATP dragged themselves out of bed predawn again, this time to watch the balloons rather than fly in them.

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Balloons

It was then on to a tour around more of the region, starting with a lookout over the Goreme area, followed by a hike through the Ihlara Canyon, which was filled with trees covered in autumn foliage and lots more eroded rocks, some of which were carved into cave dwellings and churches like so much of Capadoccia.

Ihlara Valley teahouse

The Pamplemousse in an Ihlara Valley teahouse

After lunch in the valley, the tour headed off to more Fairy Chimneys at the Selime Monastery that reputedly served as a filming location for Star Wars. Particularly impressive was the cathedral carved into the rock.

PATP

Selime monastery

Next it was on to the Derinkuyu underground city, a huge underground complex around 12 levels deep with tunnels up to 8km long that connect to the next underground city in case there was ever a need for people to evacuate. This is one of numerous underground cities in the region, dug out by Byzantine Christians to hide first from the Romans, then later from Muslims invading the region. Some of the cities could supposedly house up to 10000 people at a time.  The underground tunnels were quite incredible, complete with staircases, arched doorways and even ventilation shafts.

Once Pablo had bought another silly hat it was off to the final stop of the day, an Onyx factory. After the mandatory presentation on how they grind and polish the coloured translucent rock into shapes, plates, statues and vases by the guy in the suit and super shiny shoes who clearly only ever grinds the stuff for 10 seconds when a tour group comes through there was then plenty of opportunity to shop for onyx stuff. True to their usual form in such encounters, PATP managed to buy nothing.

With the tour done, PATP grabbed their bags and headed back to the airport for their flight back to Istanbul. For their second time in Istanbul, PATP thought it was probably about time to explore attraction number 1, the Hagia Sophia. Originally built in 537 by Byzantine emperor Justinian as an Orthodox Christian Cathedral, it was converted to a Mosque when the Ottoman Turks took over. While most Churches were destroyed, the Sultan Mehmet II was so impressed by the building, and the fact that it almost faced Mecca, that he converted it into a mosque rather than have it destroyed. It is no longer a functioning mosque, but since the 1930’s it has been used as a museum, with fantastic examples of Byzantine art and iconoclasts throughout the interior mixing with Islamic calligraphy. It also features at least 1 cat.

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Inside the Hagia Sophia

A cat. We shall call it Sophia!

A cat. We shall call it Sophia!

After the Hagia Sophia PATP visited the Basilica cisterns, dating from ancient Roman times. The underground pillars supporting the roof are all dimly lit from their bases, and reflected in the water below making for a somewhat eerie atmosphere, but great photographs. Two of the pillars have gorgon heads at their base, re-used from an earlier Roman temple. PATP enjoyed the views and spent some time trying to take artistic photos before the damp got the better of them and they headed back up to street level to find some lunch.

Basilica Cysterns

Basilica Cisterns

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | December 22, 2013

Blowing the budget in Cappadocia

PATP needn’t have bothered setting an alarm as they were woken by the muezzin in plenty of time to get dressed and ready for their 4:50am pick up. The shuttle bus took them to the Butterfly Balloons offices where they enjoyed a lovely buffet breakfast and a tense wait as the pilots waited for the drizzle to clear before deciding whether or not to put the balloons up. Fortunately for PATP the all clear was given so it was into the trucks and off to launch point.

With the balloon sufficiently filled, PATP climbed up into the basket and were fortunate to have Mustafa, one of the co-owners of the company as their pilot. He showed his brilliant skill as a balloon pilot flying them over the surreal volcanic landscape and getting the balloon close enough for the passengers to pick nuts off the trees. He also had his well rehearsed set of jokes – radioing the other pilot about what the plan was “Fly until we run out of propane again? – No, remember how many passengers we lost the last time we did that?”

or

“There’s Champagne after we land. It’s very good, I had 2 bottles while I was waiting for you this morning.”

PATP in the air.

PATP in the air.

The landscape was formed thousands of years ago from volcanic eruptions with erosion weathering different patterns out of the rocks, with thousands of phallic “Fairy Chimneys”  along with valleys and gorges. The early morning light and the dozens of other brightly coloured balloons in the sky added to the spectacle.

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After Mustafa expertly landed the balloon on the back of the truck, PATP had their second breakfast, complete with aforementioned champagne, then PATP headed back to their hotel for breakfast number 3.

Mustafa and his Champagne

Mustafa and his Champagne

Having had sufficient nourishment they then set off to the Outdoor Museum. This is a collection of old dwellings and churches from Byzantine times, with murals of Christian scenes, all carved into the rocks. After exploring the museum, and armed with a very sketchy map, PATP headed off to explore the surrounding country, accompanied some of the time by a random dog. After heading down into the valleys, PATP wandered off, heading towards what they thought was the Red Valley.

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

Given that the time frames to walk the various valleys told to them by the hotel bore no resemblance to the time actually taken, PATP headed through the Red Valley, then gave up on the Rose valley and headed back to the road that lead back to town, via some refreshment at a petrol station. As PATP got back past the Outdoor Museum, with their canine companion, the sun decided to perform a spectacular setting manoeuvre with double pike and twist.

Sunset

Sunset

Back in town, PATP hit one of the restaurants to have the local speciality Kebab Testi. Despite the name, they are not made from testicles but actually cooked in a sealed clay container, which is broken open to serve.

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | November 18, 2013

Istanbul not Constantinople

Once they’d reached Istanbul,  PATP got the metro and bus en route to their accommodation. On the bus they met an American couple who were trying to see pretty much all of Europe in 5 days, and consequently had been doing sightseeing at 3 am in various places. As they hadn’t booked anywhere to stay, they joined PATP as they tried to follow the directions to the Agora Hostel. After a bit of disagreeing and taking shortcuts, the four of them eventually got help from some of the locals, who mostly had no idea where the place was either but quite happily accompanied them on the wild goose chase until eventually they found the place. While PATP checked in, the Americans decided it was too expensive and headed off down the road to try find somewhere cheaper, and maybe do some more midnight exploring, never to be seen again.

The next morning, PATP headed into the Blue Mosque, free for all and open to muslims and non muslims alike provided you are dressed suitably. Roughly the same size and sitting across the plaza from the Hagia Sophia, to Blue Mosque, also called the Sultan Ahmet Mosque was completed in 1612 and has spectacular and intricate Islamic decorations inside, up to the ceiling.

Blue mosque

Blue mosque

From the Blue Mosque, PATP headed to the Topkapi Palace, the residence on the Ottoman Sultans for most of the duration of the Ottoman Empire. While the palace is quite spectacular in it’s own right, it is also a museum featuring a wide variety of items. These include the crown jewels of the Ottoman Empire, and the robes of the sultans. It also has many artifacts that the Sultans owned due to their possessing Mecca and all the holy sites of Islam. These included keys and doors to the Kaaba (the holiest site in Islam, where the pilgrimage to Mecca culminates) as well as some items of slightly more dubious authenticity, such as hairs from Mohammed’s beard and King David’s sword.

At Topkapi Palace

At Topkapi Palace

Having spent a whole one day in Istanbul, PATP then headed for the airport for a flight to Goreme in the Capadoccia region of central Turkey. Arriving late at night, PATP shared a bus and cab with a Japanese girl who was meeting up with her friends several hours late after having been robbed the previous night and then had the transfer to her accommodation fail to arrive. Fortunately she made it to her accommodation alright and PATP to theirs.

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | October 10, 2013

Red beach, black beach, yellow beach

The following day after a delicious buffet breakfast at their hotel, PATP caught the local bus out to Akrotiri – the archaeological ruins of ancient Thira which was destroyed by the lat big eruption of the volcano – a bit like Pompeii. The site is well preserved and has a roof built over it – somewhat detracting from atmosphere of wandering around ancient ruins. There were more clay pots and broken things for Pablo to marvel at but after Pompeii it was somewhat of a disappointment.

Leaving the ruins, PATP wandered down the road to the Red beach a short walk away. While it wasn’t quite swimming temperatures there were still quite a few people around to check out the colour of the sand and rocks – again thanks to the volcano.

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Santorini red beach

While waiting for the bus out of there, PATP witnessed a couple on a motor bike fall over. While not hurt, the girlfriend then insisted her partner get back on the bike and ride around a bit more, practicing turning and stopping before she’d agree to get back on behind him.

Next stop was Perissa, one of the black beaches of Santorini where PATP briefly explored the area and checked out some more ancient ruins that were randomly on the side of the road, before stopping in a beachfront restaurant for lunch. The black beach is spectacular but the sand gets mighty hot in summer!

Perissa black beach

Perissa black beach

After lunch PATP caught the bus back to Fira and walked up to the top of the hill for another spectacular sunset, somewhat marred by a large cruise ship interrupting their view of the volcano, complete with a giant movie screen on the deck so large that PATP could watch the movie from land a couple of kilometres away.Only PATP had no desire to watch a movie when there was a stunning sunset happening live in front of their eyes.

Hmm, to watch the sunset, or to watch the movie?

Hmm, to watch the sunset, or to watch the movie?

In addition, watching the old men walk their donkeys up the steps to the top of the cliff was entertaining enough!

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The final morning in Santorini, Pablo got himself and the Pamplemousse up at stupid o’clock to watch the sunrise before they hit town for the last time. It was then time for a lift to the airport to get their flight to Athens and then on to Istanbul to tick off one last country before returning home.

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | October 6, 2013

Fira, Fira, Fira – Oia, Oia, Oia!

Arriving on the ferry at the port of Athinios, PATP were met by one of the owners of their hotel who drove them up the cliffs along the switchbacks and to their hotel on the edge of Fira. Once settled in, they headed into town to explore the shops and take in the view over the cliffs to the volcano island off shore. PATP wandered through the cobbled alleys and along the cliffside, Pablo admiring the views whilst the Pamplemousse looked at  the silver and enamel jewellery Santorini is famous for.  Following a spectacular sunset, PATP enjoyed another scrumptious Greek dinner and visited a traditional cake shop for dessert en route back to their hotel.

Another yummy Greek dinner

Another yummy Greek dinner

The next morning PATP headed back to the port for their half day volcano tour.  Santorini is famous for its spectacular sea filled caldera and the population of the island believe themselves to be forever at the mercy of the Nea Kameni volcano which last erupted in 1950. The volcano had a massive eruption around 1000 BC which blew apart what was previously one island into the 5 islands separate islands it is today, wiping out the population in the process.

View back to Santorini from the volcano.

View back to Santorini from the volcano

The volcano is still extremely active and the island has continuous releases of smoke from several of the craters, keeping everyone aware that it could erupt again at any time. After climbing the volcano, the boat then took them to the hot springs at the next little island along. The boat moored off shore a little, leaving anyone wanting to actually get to the springs to jump overboard and swim through the chilly sea water until reaching warmer water. Being warned that the hot springs are more like luke warm springs didn’t deter PATP from swimming out anyway to bask in the murky brown water and watch the dog and chickens wandering around on the shore.

Beautiful blue (cold) water en route to the thermal springs

Beautiful blue (cold) water en route to the thermal springs

Once back on the main island, PATP headed up to Oia, THE postcard town of Santorini. After exploring the shops and wandering through town they headed to the edge of town past the windmills to watch the sun set into the ocean. With the sun down, PATP got the bus back in to Fira, had dinner and then went back to the same cake shop as the previous night, since the first time wasn’t enough. On the way back to the hotel, PATP made a friend – a local dog they’d passed earlier in the day. The dog followed them home – quite literally – even climbing up the stairs to their hotel room and waiting patiently outside the door for at least 10 minutes in the vain hope that maybe PATP would relent and let him inside.

Oia

Oia

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | September 6, 2013

The Nexus of Naxos

At stupid o’clock the next morning, PATP were up and out of the hotel to get a ferry to the Island of Naxos, highly recommended by a few friends who’d been there.  Naxos is the largest of Cyclades Islands, but far less known than Islands like Santorini or Mykanos. After 6 hours on the ferry, PATP eventually arrived at the port, to be met by the owner of Hotel Anatoli. After getting a lift to the hotel and checking in to their room, PATP headed out into town, passed a gorgeous church virtually next door the hotel and through some of the old town, with white and blue being the ubiquitous colour scheme.

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PATP wandered through the little streets of the old town, trying not to disturb the many cats which have made Naxos their home. Cats on stairs, fences and even cats in boxes! Having an easy afternoon, they felt obliged to have some baklava at one of the seafront cafes on the harbour, and exploring the remains of the Temple of Apollo overlooking the town.

These cats like to hide in boxes

These cats like to hide in boxes!

After watching a gorgeous sunset, PATP headed to a the famous Maro’s Tavern, recommended by a friend they had met in Morocco, for a Greek feast – delicious!

Maro's Tavern. Mmmm

Maro’s Tavern. Mmmm

The following day, after a ridiculously good breakfast buffet, PATP decided to head inland and see some more of the Island. With some advice from the hotel owner, they caught the local bus to the town of Filoti in the centre of the Island. Once off the bus, they walked down the road to an old windmill and monastery on a nearby hill. Having done their exercise for the morning, it was therefore obviously time for yet more food, at a local restarant finished by some Greek coffee for Pablo of course. To make sure they got the last bus back to town, PATP got to the bus stop early, fortunately as it turned out since unlike anything in the Mediterranean, it came early.

Once back, Pablo insisted they head to the beach (since there was a beach) for a swim, despite the reasonably long walk to get there, before watching sunset at the temple and another evening around town. The final morning in Naxos Pablo and the  Pamplemousse wandered up and down every alley and hill in the old town, just in case the next corner revealed a different white and blue building, before watching some of the parade celebrating Ochi day, when Greece refused to join Italy in WWII and so was invaded. With their ferry due, they reluctantly left the parade to collect their bags from the hotel and head to the ferry berth.

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | August 31, 2013

Acropolis now

Bus to Harbour, bus to check in, bus from check in to ferry, overnight ferry ride to Patras, bus from ferry to bus stop, bus from bus stop to bus terminal, intercity bus to athens, bus from bus terminal to metro stop, metro to hotel and finally PATP arrived at their hotel in Athens 9 connections later. Despite all the warnings and news reports about how dodgy Athens had become since the GFC brought the Greek economy to the edge of collapse, the feel of the place resembled that of any other European city, with cars still on the roads, people still eating in restaurants and money still coming out of ATMs. PATP enjoyed a delicious (and cheap) dinner of olives, fish and bread and dips, sitting outside at one of the many local restaurants and partook in the national sport of people watching for a bit.  After dinner, PATP had an early night to make up for all the travel and the interrupted sleep on the floor of the ferry.

With a whole one day to explore Athens, PATP did what every other tourist does and headed firstly to the Acropolis.

The Acropolis

The Acropolis

Exploring around the sides first, they made it up to the top around midday to get photos of the Parthenon. Eager to get jump shots, as they had throughout their travels, PATP were cautious about the overeager wardens determined not to allow anything so disrespectful as a funny pose, let alone a jump shot, in case it offended Zeus or Athena. PATP managed to get a jump shot or two anyway, figuring if Zeus was that offended by jumping he could strike them down with a thunderbolt himself.

Unauthorised Acropolis jump shot

Unauthorised Acropolis jump shot

Once done with the Acropolis, PATP headed back down to explore more of the archaeological ruins surrounding the area, including the Agora, and the ancient cemetary where they noticed a Tortoise. They then noticed another few tortoises, mostly ganging up on one, butting their shells against it, and jumping on top. It quickly became apparent that this was a group of males, essentially trying to rape a female in a not so subtle excuse for courtship. After watching this display for a while, PATP headed off for nourishment, before hitting the new Acropolis Museum, recently built to house all the relics from the Acropolis, particularly the Elgin Marbles, which they hope to get back from the British Museum one day.

Random tortoise in Athens (they're everywhere)

Random tortoise in Athens (they’re everywhere)

Being in Greece, PATP also decided that they had to try a Greek Yoghurt. Conveniently there was a yoghurt shop nearby, clearly designed for tourists as there was not a single Greek letter in any of the writing in the place. Still, it was mighty tasty, whether with nuts and honey in the traditional style or with different syrups or fruits.

Yummy Greek yoghurt

Yummy Greek yoghurt

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | August 7, 2013

Diving in Dubrovnik and time wasting in Italy

Having a day free with no plans, PATP decided to head back to the new part of Dubrovnik, and maybe find a dive shop where Pablo could do a couple of dives the following day. After a little time in the town, they headed to the first dive shop they’d found online, at a fancy hotel, who unfortunately weren’t heading out the next day, only running an open water course. They therefore headed to the next dive centre – a long since closed up shack on the beach. Next stop, a closed up shack at the harbour, which someone opened in honour of PATP but still proved useless in terms of diving the following day. Following this PATP investigated the last option they’d seen – up a long hill to another fancy hotel that was anything but a closed up shack – the Dubrovnik Palace. Finally they found somewhere open and going diving with availability the following day. Having finally managed to find somewhere to dive, and taken most of the day to do so, PATP headed down to the waterfront for just another spectacular Croatian sunset.

Just another Croatian sunset

Just another Croatian sunset

The next morning at 4am, the Pamplemousse got up to have an interview for a possible job back in Australia, conducted via phone at a bus stop outside their guest house. Interview done, she managed to doze for another hour or so before they got up to head to the hotel. While Pablo got kitted out and geared up with his diving equipment, the Pamplemousse relaxed by the pool.

Living it up in Dubrovnik

Living it up in Dubrovnik

With one dive done, Pablo returned to the hotel for lunch to find the Pamplemousse in pretty much the same place and same pose as when he’s left – next to the pool. Lunch done, Pablo headed out for the second dive and the Pamplemousse headed back to the lounge next to the pool for another hour or 2.

PATP underwater

PATP underwater

That evening, PATP did a last bit of wandering through the old city, including catching sunset at the hole in the wall cafe that was the only place it was visible in the old city, before catching the overnight ferry back to Bari in Italy.

Arriving early in the morning back in Italy, and having seen as much of Bari as they needed to the previous time, PATP stuck their bags in the luggage store and headed to the station for a day trip out of there. The destination of choice – the UNESCO listed town of Alberobello, a town they’d never heard of before that morning. The town if famous for their Trulli houses – white houses with cone shaped roofs made of stone tiles, many with mystical symbols painted on them. The unique form of architecture originated when the local Duke imposed a tax on all buildings build with mortar, inspiring the locals to build without using mortar to hold the buildings together. While this edict has long since been rescinded, the trulli buildings are the main (only?) claim to fame of the region, and so the tradition continues.

Trulli houses

Trulli houses

After exploring the town for a few hours, and having one more pasta meal in Italy, they headed back to Bari to catch a second consecutive overnight ferry, this time to Greece.

Posted by: pabloandthepamplemousse | July 28, 2013

Black mountain and Elephant islands

Having missed the “Sail Croatia” season due to attending the “Sail Greenland” season instead, PATP did the next best thing and went on a day trip sailing around the Elafiti Islands on the three island cruise. The trip was surprisingly affordable, particularly given it was an “all you can drink”. Pablo, half jokingly, said beforehand it was probably because the alcohol was so bad you wouldn’t want more than one drink.

Soon as they were on the boat and underway in the gorgeous morning sunshine, the crew came around offering the first drink of the day – a local, home made, herb flavoured brandy. After one sip, most of the passengers ‘accidentally’ tipped theirs over the side, lending credence to Pablo’s theory about the alcohol.

Sail Croatia

Sail Croatia

Nevertheless, the sailing past the Croatian coast and islands was spectacular. After rounding a headland of Lopud island, the first stop came into view with first the church, then the town hotel, and gradually the rest of the town appearing as they sailed closer.

Lopud

Lopud

With an hour and a half available to explore the island, PATP first headed to the old church and monastery with views of the town, and views of the local dog having a great time chasing tiny fish on the beach. They then headed across the island to the main sandy beach for a quick swim and to enjoy the views of the other side of the island before returning and sailing to the next island, Sipan, for lunch. This happened to be the captains home island and after docking at the pier he guided the group through the town, past the old fort and to his home where his wife had prepared lunch. This was served at the long table on the front veranda. The lunch had beautiful tasty food, and home made wine the colour of rust and which smelled rather strongly of sulfur. While the hardy (stupid?) few who tried it said it wasn’t too bad, neither Pablo nor the Pamplemousse were game. To top off lunch, the captain appeared with his accordian to entertain everyone. While his skill and musicianship with the instrument brought back memories of the “1 euro to start, 2 euro to stop” kids in Amsterdam on Queens Day, his enthusiasm for the music was still endearing.

As a musician he made a great boat's captain!

As a musician he made a great boat captain!

After lunch, everyone waddled back to the boat to head to the last island of the day, Kolocep. While the final island didn’t boast a beach or lunch, it was still beautiful, with a town older than any in Australia and turquoise water all around. After arriving back at the port, PATP walked through the new area of town, watched a gorgeous sunset by the water to cap off a relaxing and enjoyable day,  and then headed to a cave bar that had been recommended to them by some of the others on the cruise.

Sunset in Dubrovnik

Sunset in Dubrovnik

Suffering withdrawal symptoms from not having sat in a mini van for hours on end for at least a day, PATP fed their addiction the following day and headed South to visit yet another country – Montenegro, the last Yugoslav republic to separate from Serbia. The first stop, just past the border, was a coastal town with brilliant views of the hills they’d just passed. After a quick toilet and coffee break, they headed to the town of Kotor, a UNESCO listed town at the far end of the largest fjord in Eastern Europe that is one of the main tourist attractions of Montenegro. Kotor has a well preserved, walled old town fronting the water with an almost shear hill rising behind it, featuring more walls, forts and churches to protect the town below.

The view across the fjord to Kotor

The view across the fjord to Kotor

PATP wandered through the old town, around the cobbled streets and into a few churches.  There was a marching band in the main square which briefly amused the tour groups and created some great photo opportunities as they marched through the streets. Having explored the town a little, Pablo then insisted that since there was a hill they must climb it. The path up followed the walls to various forts before they reached the church about half way up. Having been pre-warned that the views from higher up were much the same, and with limited time, PATP then headed back down into town and outside the walls. From there they headed back through the food market and into the main square to grab a piece of cake each before jumping back on the bus.

Kotor from above

Kotor from above

Next stop was the beach town of Budva. While there is an old walled town, the main reason people visit is to party over the summer at the numerous beach clubs. Being autumn and the middle of the day however, the clubs were silent and instead PATP did some exploring in the old city. After exploring the alleys through the town they headed outside for lunch at a beachside restaurant. After seating them at a table, the waiter then vanished. Eventually PATP got another waiter to give them menus before he too vanished. After a bit longer they bailed up a third waiter to take their order, whereupon the first waiter re-appeared, mortally offended that PATP had ordered with another waiter. The food eventually arrived, followed some time later by their drinks. Once consumed, PATP looked in vain for someone to bring them the bill, and once that eventually arrived they then tried to actually pay it. Giving up on this they got up and walked to the till where it was demanded they identify the first waiter as it was his table, before they could pay. After a bit more exploring the around the beach and town, they headed back to Dubrovnik.

The Pamplemousse outside the old city of Bodvar

The Pamplemousse outside the old city of Budva

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