A Travellerspoint blog

Sweet worries, Ladies’ Loos and Tito

Travelling with Irena

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on TravellingLight's travel map.


Our Dalmation Sunshine Tour has ended. We have had a delightful experience of Croatia and Slovenia. We are sad to say good-bye to all our fellow passengers: all exceptionally lovely people. Our saddest loss is of our passionate, warm, funny, incredibly well-rounded guide, Irena. She filled our drives with, sometimes wonderful, sometimes tragic stories of these lands and her life. Her love of all things Slovenian was inspiring. She had our mouth watering at the food and ice cream suggestions.
Her sympathy for and support for Jen & I when we left our passports (in our security box at Plitvice Lakes made us want to cry. We held it together even when we paid out the dosh for the taxi to bring them to us... never spent so much on a taxi ride in our lives!! The driver (& his wife) then drove us another 100 kms through to catch up with the bus at Postojna Caves.. the main issue was that we had to cross a border into Slovenia to get to the Caves so we couldn’t just get them couriered!!
One of Irena’s most memorable sayings was, Sweet worries!! These are the things that we would call, First world problems! The fact that we are free and able to travel and have such rich experiences makes such ‘minor’ issues as paying out a fortune for our passports to catch us Sweet worries!


Ladies’ Loos

Today’s world has progressed in so many ways. Women have opportunities that they never could have dreamed of once, but there is one area where men still reign: Time in the Loo Line. It has been addressed in Wynnum with Unisex Toilets on the waterfront but who would have thought that our humble local suburbs would be ahead of the forward thinking inventive Europeans. We have not yet come across such practical toilets yet. Travelling with a bus load of ladies (as well as some charming men) meant anxiety and annoyance at every loo stop as the line grew as other buses had the same needs. The fact that, in some locations, there was an attendant to take up to 7kuna from us for the privilege rubbed salt into the wound!!
Here we have a Ladies Loo Line as well as some more inventive waste management systems plus a nun:


“A man amongst men.. a legend.. a saviour... an idol.. a charismatic leader”. He only made one mistake in his whole 35 year reign (1945-1980) as leader of Yugoslavia (as far as Yugoslavs are concerned). He didn’t train up someone to follow him as leader and it all fell apart ending up with neighbour killing neighbour because of ethnic difference. Irena grew up as one of Tito’s Pioneer Children who swore allegiance to Yugoslavia and to brotherhood and loyalty to state and to each other. As she read the Motto to us she choked up. Living in Tito’s time might have been irksome to the capitalist world but they felt safe and unified.. a far cry from this region now.

Over the hills and far away..

Amazing how far you can go in a day... from Zagreb (Capital of Croatia where we left our tour group) to Stuttgart (where we were stuck in a Passport control line, heard our next flight called and had to bustle our way forward, ran for the gate, jumped on the bus to get to the plane and had to sit for 20 minutes while the plane refuelled). Then over the spectacular Italian Alps to our ever so humble little apartment where we can almost jump into the Grand Canal from our balcony.. Venice awaits our devoted gaze... Shaza and Daza have already hit the pavement!!

Posted by TravellingLight 02:24 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Taking a drive..

... Then on Tour

overcast 16 °C
View Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on TravellingLight's travel map.

Some days are diamonds and then some days are more like the rare and beautiful Tanzanite..

We used an Uber driver to move from our delightful apartment near the Old Town of Dubrovnik over to the Hotel we thought we needed to be at for the start of our ‘Dalmation Sunshine 9 Day Tour’. He gave us his card after describing a mouthwatering drive along he Adriatic Sea and onto the long narrow Peninsula to Ston. After having to transfer to another hotel, we decided Jalyk’s offer sounded ok.. so off we went.. Croatians seem to be able to talk without drawing breath.. quite a feat considering English isn’t their first language. So it was with Jalyk!
Divine little beaches tucked down below soaring rugged cliffs, Ston’s city wall which wouldn’t keep a cat out after the earthquake of 1979.. very authentic and a ‘real’ working town that has gathered the saltiest salt for 4000 years. Then there was the latest ‘lunch’ we have ever had but possibly the best feed of Mediterranean seafood we’ll ever taste.

Croats can definitely talk under water, no! Cement!.. we are privy to a minimum of three life stories from the guides we have had. Each of them could write a book on the turbulent lives they have led. Our Aussie tales of life are comparatively tame and plain sailing!!
Clearest purest most inviting water I have ever seen & I’ve seen some water.. how does it stay clean?? High salt content, underground water flow from mountains? No! It’s the fact that the whole of the Mediterranean esp Adriatic Sea have little or no ‘food’ to support a massive growth of algae.. somehow! Whatever.. it has meant that through thousands of years of use and abuse from humans, this stunning water still takes your breath away with its pristine beauty..
We are all familiar with the glorious Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Island: Beautiful stretches of sand and surf. BUT, the Adriatic experience is of CONTINUOUS dramatic cliffs looming up behind this pristine aqua blue water.. for hundreds of kilometres... astounding.

History lesson

It can be difficult engaging Aussie kids in our history: it all happened so long ago and so far away. The history of Croatia and this whole region is so real to everyone: it is centuries old and every child knows it backwards. There is an inbuilt fear of being forced into war again or being betrayed by neighbours or changing conditions.. they fear war in a way that our one nation on one continent can never understand.
No wonder it’s hard to get a smile out of people or engage (and we love engaging!). Each ethnic group has to stick together.. Don’t trust, don’t put your head up or stand out in any way, move away if you don’t like it, emigrate!
Australians lack for nothing yet still we whinge and want more. How blessed and spoilt we are! Our guide, Irena, is a very special person whose motto is: Live for Peace - work for brotherhood and unity.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

Bus Travel with 26 Fellow Tourists

We were in fear and trepidation about joining a tour but we didn’t want to hire a car nor find our own way around Croatia and Slovenia. Our fears were unnecessary as we are travelling with 26 warm, genuine people (mainly Americans, Canadians and Aussies). Our guide Erina is exceptional. Have a tiny peek at what we have seen.. From Split and the devilish Diocletian’s Palace, to the Plitvice Lakes and waterfalls and then to Lake Bled:


“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

PS... coming in the next blog... the exciting adventure of the forgotten passports and the Uber driver and his wife who made a feeble attempt to catch the other up (we will not be mentioning the cost but if you are feeling benevolent, we have a suggestion for you!!) Until next time..

Posted by TravellingLight 11:27 Archived in Slovenia Comments (4)

Beside the Adriatic Sea..

Amazing scenery, sad history, great company!

sunny 28 °C
View Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on TravellingLight's travel map.

From the Sublime to the NOT so Sublime!

You will all have been asking yourselves (I know I would have in your shoes) how could those girls afford Business Class travel from Brisbane to Dubai. Miracles do happen. We were offered an upgrade when we went to check-in online. It wasn’t free but it was worth every single cent we paid. The A380 has two levels, Business Class took over the entire upper level. The comfort, space, attention, choice of food and wine as well as the real crockery and cutlery made us giggle with sheer joy. We even had a lounge we could retire to for chatter, chips and choice of cocktails. Sharon and Daph have never flown Business before. Jen and I have snuck in a couple. Those 14 hours literally flew by!

We, however, are not wealthy so we will not be doing another upgrade this trip. Dubai to Dubrovnik was a solid reminder of life among the equally great unwashed and squashed. We even had to pay for a cup of tea on Fly Dubai!!

Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Sea

When we talked about travelling to Croatia many reflected on the recent conflict which raged in the streets of this city and the whole area for over 4 years (1991 - 1995). We were more driven by the reports of magnificent scenery, crystal blue waters along the Adriatic coast and walled cities hanging over the edges of scraggy cliffs. We have NOT been disappointed. The only thing that has troubled us a bit is our miscalculation of the weather. We packed for mild October temps and low humidity, it has been hot and steamy .. needless to say the washing machine in our apartment is getting a beating as we only have two sets of summer clothes! There are those who know I was packed for months but still got it wrong!!
Dubrovnik has quickly pushed aside a few of the cities on the list of my favourites.

Roomies search for food

Jen and I were both a bit jet-lagged on our first day in Dubrovnik but Daph and Sharon were little ‘energiser bunnies’ so they set off to find the local supermarket for supplies. Hours went by - no Roomies, no food! We had decided to set off ourselves when two bedraggled walkers staggered up the hill. They had lost the supermarket but found Old Town and came back mesmerised by what they had seen... and they had food as well.

Mesmerising Dubrovnik

It was an accident that we have ended up staying in Dubrovnik for over a week but we have not been unhappy. Absorbing the scenery, the culture, the history, the daily life of Croatia and the countries around has made our heads spin and our hearts glad that we live in one country on one continent and we are a long way from anywhere. It’s hard to comprehend the savagery that occurred during those years of ‘blood wars’. The walled city of Dubrovnik has had to be rebuilt after 2000 bombs and a seven month siege in 1991-92. Amazingly restored! The Game of Thrones series was largely filmed around these parts and the number of devotees was astounding.

Mostar - Bombed but Blooming

We all look at life from our own unique perspectives but when you can’t accept other perspectives, things can turn rather nasty. Travelling in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro are testament to that truth. We went through 6 border crossing on our long day trip to the medieval town of Mostar which was also under siege & destroyed during the ‘blood wars’. The magnificent 16th century ‘Stari Most’ Old Bridge and the surrounding cobble stone alleys have all had to be rebuilt. It really was beyond us as who fought who and why. It seems they are all trying to play nicely at the moment.

Montenegro - Ring any bells?.

Daph is our greatest source of random knowledge on this trip. Even she was a bit hazy as to details about Montenegro. Jen linked the name with sailing boats, I linked it with stripey shirts and sailor hats. Sharon like the name. We are now informed and in wonder at this small country with magnificent coastal scenery (Norwegian fjord-style) and it’s dinky walled cities such as Kotor and Budva. Love those walled old towns with heaps of churches and steeples! This was another long day of driving from Dubrovnik but was so worth it.

Have we mentioned the food and drinks?


These are the days of miracle and wonder..

Paul Simon

Posted by TravellingLight 10:04 Archived in Croatia Comments (5)


Watch out Croatia, Slovenia and Italy: the Fab Four are eyeing you off!!

sunny 24 °C
View Croatia, Slovenia and Italy on TravellingLight's travel map.

We have been fiddling around writing these Travelling Light blogs spasmodically for over three years now. Looking back on the 45 posts we are amazed at the opportunities we have had to see so many different parts of the world and have cause to reflect on the richness and wonder that travelling brings us. We have continued to attempt to be true to the name of our Blog: Travelling Light..

If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.

.... Rumi

Truth will Out!!

After months of trying to convince ourselves (as well as Sharon & Daph) that a cabin-sized bag is all we need for this trip, we have decided to step it up a bit into a medium-sized bag with 4 wheels!! Travelling in Africa is a far-cry from travelling in Europe. We got away with three changes of clothes and a cardy in the constant temperatures of Tanzania. Our bags reflect our uncertainty of the weather in October along the Adriatic Sea, up into Slovenia to Lake Bled, onto Venice and finishing on the Amalfi Coast. First world problems abound!! Will it snow or sizzle? How many layers? Which shoes? You get the idea... but.. so far the weight of the items does not reflect the size of the bag... still weighs in under 12kgs!! (That includes emergency soup, snacks and coffee bags!)


Well, obviously, there’s Jen & Eil. We are still a bit frayed around the edges from a few happenings in last months. Jen has lost heaps of weight and is still in recovery mode from her Hiatus Hernia op. It has knocked her around and has had trouble getting her mojo back. Added to that, we cleverly decided a massive fundraising effort was a great idea just before we left for Europe. ‘Mealtime for Maasai Students’ raised a lot of dosh (over $17000) for projects at Esilalei but we lost quite a bit of sleep and gained a few more grey hairs over it.
Then there’s Daph! We met Daph whilst teaching at Wondall in the 90s and she is as mad as we are.. Her beloved pet Schnitzel kept her from travelling for nearly 20 years but she’s packed and ready to go now!
Then there’s Sharon, my newfound cousin (known the bio family for 16 years now!) She is a mad traveller, grandmother of 2,5 children, daughter to two elderly parents, and an Arty Assistant at Redeemer College.


On board and ready to enjoy a very special surprise!! Business Class from Brisbane to Dubai.. 14 hours of relaxing and sleeping!!!

Posted by TravellingLight 03:31 Archived in Australia Comments (11)

Two months since our return from Africa...

Some reflections....

sunny 18 °C

Coming down from the high..

We spent an entire year preparing for our Shorwill Safari to Tanzania (a little OCD I hear you say?) We no sooner returned from our time helping out Donna and family in Arusha than we were off and away gathering our team, deciding what we could collect, make, get others to make and, of course, planning the itinerary. We lived on a high with the trip to Africa always in our sights.
Then came the date of departure (26/2/19) and Team Shorwill gathered at the Brisbane International Airport and the journey began. I think I can speak for all ten of us in saying that we now consider each other as ‘family’. We bonded through the myriad of experiences we had together, not least of all the three days at the Esilalei Nursery School where we were all on a roller coaster ride of new challenges, insights, friendships and eye-openineg encounters.
Coming home after those four sensational weeks to “ordinary life” in suburbia was difficult for both Jen & I. Not to put too fine a point on it but we consider that we have been feeling a bit lost. After every day fully planned and full of excitement, here we were having to be self-motivated, self-planned and needing to re-focus, re-evaluate, re-purpose and re-connect with life here. An experience most travellers have...
Thankfully, as Peter Allen so poignantly wrote TIME is a traveller..’... always moving, never standing still.. nor can we. Remembering that Nothing is meaningless. Nothing can be dismissed is something we have both had to learn from experience.. all the day to day things are all part of the fabric of our lives and apart of who we are as we seek to Travel in the Light.


Mealtime for Maasai Students Project

We are well into our second year of our project and feel that our initial desire to assist Donna’s meal program at Esilalei by asking supporters for $50/child/year has grown into something far far bigger thanks to people’s generous hearts. It was SO good to see the porridge and banana meals being provided first hand and to see the water tanks all in place. We must say the 100 kgs of supplies for the school were gratefully received. Every child received a new outfit, both classrooms received new supplies and games, new murals were added to walls inside and outside, new balls were handed out and many women children were treated freely by the local Doctor. Our team were deeply moved by our shared experience with this humble, ancient people. One of our most poignant memories is of their generosity of heart. They have nothing and yet they gave: fabric capes, beaded jewellery and, most amazing, a specially slaughtered goat (at least we didn’t see it killed as Deniece and I saw in 2012 at Lango’s).


Now for the future

After six weeks at home the Shorwill Safari Team met for a reunion. Everyone was given the instruction to select their 200 favourite photos from the trip and bring them so we could have a binge on memories. It was amazing to see what each of us chose and to relive our time together. The BIG thing to come out of the day was a plan to have a fundraiser on Saturday 14 September 2019 to support Donna’s humanitarian work among the Maasai, particularly the Esilalei Village community. More details after our first planning meeting but we know Donna will be here in Brisbane to speak on the day. If you haven’t listened to the interview with Donna on Conversations ABC Radio broadcast on 4 April called Mama Simba: love and Tanzania find it on ABC Podcasts and have a listen... very enlightening and heart-breaking.

Travelling along the open road..

Part of our therapy for adjusting to retired life has been getting out of the city and finding the ‘big skies’ of the Western Downs and the ‘big rivers and green hills’ of the Northern Rivers of NSW. It’s helped to restore our souls and give us time to just ‘be’..

We’re back home again... ran out of milk!!

Posted by TravellingLight 15:52 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 45) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 »