Hello from Pahrump, NV

Hello from Pahrump, NV

Monday evening – November 11, 2019   (Second post of this travelogue)

We are at the Holiday Inn Express in Pahrump (link to Google map)

Friday we travelled from Torrey, UT to Cedar City,UT.  Our route took us over the famous “Southern Utah Scenic Byway 12” (link to information and pictures).  We traveled this route in 2013 but the opposite direction.  Going from east to west seemed quite different from the other direction.  Either way is an amazing drive.  At one point you are on the spine of the rock formation and there are steep cliffs on both sides of the road (see picture).

Highway 12 (Medium)

Towards the west end of highway 12 we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park.  While we have seen this park several times, it never fails to amaze us with the incredible views.  I am posting a couple of  pictures of Bryce Canyon, but they don’t begin to do justice to the splendor of the canyon.

Bryce Canyon 2 (Medium)

 

Bryce Canyon 1 (Medium)

 

Natural Bridge in Bryce (Medium)

After touring the park, we drove to Cedar City for the night.  It turns out that we had to adjust our itinerary a bit because several Holiday Inns were booked up.

From Cedar City we made a fairly short drive to Mesquite, NV and stayed in a beautiful Holiday Inn with a room that had a balcony which overlooked the pool as well as the whole valley.  Pat was able to spend a couple of afternoons playing the slots, while I did some computer projects. 

Today we drove from Mesquite to Pahrump.  We are using this location to make some day trips into an area we fell in love with several years ago.   Our first trip to the area was during our inaugural trip in the Bus (2006).  A few years ago I uploaded what was then an email blog to our blog/travelogue.  Two of the posts from that travelogue will give you background as to how we discovered the area and why we loved it so much:  (2006 Inaugural Bus Trip post 5) and (2006 Inaugural Bus Trip post 6).

To summarize those two posts we found the tiny town of Shoshone, CA from a book that we carried which listed all of the hot springs in the south west.  That led us to a small campground that was pretty bare bones, but just right for us to “hide out” and relax.  From there we ventured into Death Valley.  We would never have chosen to tour that area, but once we did, we were blasted away by the amazing diversity of scenic wonders that the park has to offer.  We subsequently went back to the area a couple of more times over the year.

We had hoped to stay in Shoshone but the one motel is very basic, yet charges a fortune for the rooms.  If we had the bus with us we would have stayed in the campground.  The other issue  is that there is no cell service in the area.  In the past we would drive to Pahrump to make our calls (about 30 miles).

We will describe our re-visit to the area in the next post or two.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Torrey, UT 2019

Hello from Torrey, UT 2019

Thursday afternoon – November 7, 2019   (First post of this travelogue)

This will be a multipart travelogue spanning the next three weeks.  Pat and I are visiting some of our favorite locations.  These spots bring back fun memories and are rather special to us.  About half way through this period, we will be in Las Vegas for a Stampin’ Up! event.

About the time we started planning the SU travel, Pat was in her terrible accident.  As her recovery progressed it became likely that she would be able to enjoy a bit of an extended driving trip linked to the SU event.  We then began to think about the places that were on the top of our “must visit again” list.    

You might note that our title format is slightly different from our norm.  This is because we used the same title (without the year) in 2013 (link to our 2013 blog).

We are staying at the Capitol  Reef Resort in Torrey (link to Google Maps)

Let’s catch up a bit before we discuss today’s event.  We left Evergreen Tuesday morning and drove to Grand Junction.  As will be the case on most of our travel days, we are going to try to keep the mileage down so that we can enjoy our travel a bit more that our normal hustle and bustle travel {grin}.  Wednesday we travelled to Richfield Utah which is close to the junction of I-70 and I-15.  Both nights we stayed in Holiday Inn Express (our hotel of choice).

The weather, so far, has been almost perfect.  Clear skies and cool shirt sleeve temperatures.

Today we toured Capitol Reef National Park.  We have been to most all of the National Parks in Utah and this one is a real jewel that not many folks know about.  One of the highlights of the park is a 20 mile round trip drive to Capitol Gorge.  I have included a few photos.

That is all for this post.

Capitol Reef 1 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 2 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 3 (Medium)

 

Capitol Reef 4 (Medium)

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Hello from Roseville, CA

Hello from Roseville, CA

Draft started:  Friday morning – November 1, 2019   (First post of this travelogue)

Posted:  11/6/19

I made this trip to present an NTT Mechanical Drives class for the city of Roseville, CA.  My hotel was the Holiday Inn Express in Lincoln, CA (link to Google Maps). 

This Holiday Inn was the closest location to the Roseville water treatment plant where I taught the class.  That said, it was a 20 minute drive.  I had to be at the plant between 6 and 6:30 AM, so the traffic was not bad.  It was a good class, as many of the students were race fans or car builder folks.  We had a lot in common.  That always makes for good exchange during the class.

The weather out here is rather nice.  The closest of the many huge fires in CA are about a hundred miles away and there is no noticeable smoke.  The temperatures are rather crisp in the morning (30s), but once the sun came out it was comfortable shirt sleeve weather.  Unfortunately, Pat has had to endure significant snow and temperatures as cold as -10 degrees!!

I stayed over Friday to visit a good friend who lives and has an amazing machine shop close to North San Juan, CA (about 20 miles north of Grass Valley, CA).  I first met Steve in the early 90s when he was a big blower belt distributor for Gates.  His business is based on racing products (a significant part of that business includes blower belt pulleys, cam gears, and starters for fuel drag racing cars).  Our relationship quickly changed from vendor/customer to good friends.  His company website:  link to RCD Engineering

We spent quite a bit of time in his “toy” shop where he has been building an amazing '59 El Camino that has a huge number of custom machined parts. 

Steve Leach 59 El Camino

We also toured his shop which as a large number of CNC machining centers.  All of this in a very remote part of the county.

I had scheduled a late flight and ended up getting home at 3:00 AM Saturday morning.

That is all for this trip.  

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Our unforgettable trip to Guffey, Co

Our unforgettable trip to Guffey, Co

I am writing this “travelogue” two months after we started our journey to Guffey, CO.  

The trip started out as a fun Labor Day trip to Pat’s Brother and Sister-in-laws new home in Guffey, CO. It was going to be a fun family weekend.  We left Evergreen on August 31, 2019.

This was the first trip in our Eagle Bus in almost three years.  The bus has had some issues and I finally got them resolved.  The approximately 100 mile drive was beautiful and uneventful.  Our granddaughter Molly went with us and rode shotgun.  She has always enjoyed the bus and had missed traveling with us.

Unfortunately about two hours after our arrival, Pat was badly injured in a UTV accident.  Pasted below is a note I sent to her customers: 

I am sad to announce that Pat was hurt in a UTV/ATV accident on Saturday (8/31/19).  We had traveled to her Brother and sister-in-laws new house near Guffey, CO.  We had planned a long weekend with several family members.  Our SIL took Pat and Molly (youngest granddaughter) for a tour of the property.  Somehow the vehicle accelerated and rolled into a large ditch.  Pat was thrown clear of the vehicle.

She sustained some pretty significant injuries and was taken to UCHealth Medical Center in Colorado Springs via Flight-for-life.  Her injuries include several large deep lacerations to the back of her head, severe wrist fracture (will require surgery), 4 broken ribs and a large open wound to her leg.  Today she had surgery to suture the head cuts, run a scope to her lungs and to clean/repair the leg wound. 

They were able to reduce the wound area from about 4 inches in diameter  to about 2 ½ inches.  They have installed a vacuum patch on the open wound in hopes that it will help the healing.  They think that there is the possibility that she will need a skin graft.

She has been in the ICU for the past two nights.  We are hoping that she will transfer to a regular room tomorrow.  We do not know when she will get to go home.

She will have a tough recovery that will last several weeks.

 

Over the past two months Pat has had four surgeries.  She was a trooper through it all and has now recovered from most of her injuries.

We are looking forward to going back to Guffey, in the bus, in the spring.  Their place is beautiful and we know we will have a ton of fun.

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Hello from Price, UT

Hello from Price, UT

Thursday evening – August 15, 2019   (Second post of this travelogue)

This morning’s post was made from the salt with a signal that was not all that great.  In addition to having issues with some of the photos, I knew that it might be difficult to upload the photo files.  Thus this second post.

I am staying at the Holiday Inn in Price.  I also stayed here on the way out last Sunday.

One of the fun aspects of Bonneville events is the amazing array of non-racing vehicles.  The photo below shows a neat car/trailer combination.  They camped next to me one night and then we parked together on the salt to watch the runs.  It is a really neat family with two daughters who traveled all the way from Michigan – via Yellowstone and other neat stops.  It really brought back memories of taking the girls to Illinois in the 56 Chevy in 1987.

50 Chevy and 48 Spartan trailer (Medium)

1950 Chevy Woody with a 1948 Spartan trailer
(note the Charger on the left)

 

In the last post I mentioned that I was “camping” on this trip.  The two photos illustrate my “camp”

Dinner at the bend (Medium)

Dinner at the bend – my camp spot
Note the propane stove and freeze dried package

 

Breakfast on the salt (Medium)

Breakfast on the salt just before sunrise
(note the full moon setting in the upper left)

 

Here are a couple of additional photos

Enola Gay Hanger restoration 1 (Medium)

Historic Marker for the Enola Gay Hanger at Wendover

 

Race fan lunch stop (Medium)

No trip to a western racing event is complete without a “double double”
IN-N-OUT Burger has an almost cult following in the west.

 

So was the trip fun?  Let me count the ways:

1)  I got to drive a butt kicking Hemi Charger!

2)  The Charger has a USB connected to the stereo system so I got to listen to my music from my phone (over 1000 songs)

3)  I “survived” my camping experience rather well.

4)  The freeze dried meals were pretty good and I got to have a bit of scotch and a Cuban cigar each night (actually one half of one each night).  If you follow our blog you will recall that I bought some Cuban cigars in Croatia (yes it is legal).  I am not at all a cigar connoisseur but they seemed pretty much like my much less expensive on-line cigars.

5)  I got to see a lot of great cars and some good runs.  Even if the salt limited the big speeds, the sights and sounds of the fast cars is beyond description.

So the answer to the question is: HELL YES!

Next year I hope the bus and truck will be ready and then I can take Pat with me.

That is all for this trip

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Hello from Wendover, UT (Bonneville!!!!!!!!)

Hello from Wendover, UT (Bonneville!!!!!!!!)

Thursday morning – August 15, 2019   (First post of this travelogue)

I am at one of my favorite locations/race – Bonneville Speed Week. 

My great plans earlier this year were to have the bus and the IHC truck here.  Well neither  were even close to making it.  So plan B was to rent a car and “camp” at what they call the “bend in the road” Google Maps Link

When I say camp, that is a pretty basic description.  I am sleeping in the front seat of my rental car (a Hemi Charger!!!!).  I have a propane camp stove on which I prepare my freeze dried breakfasts and dinners (pretty good meals).  I also use the camp stove to make my coffee with my special coffee maker (uses my K cups).  That makes me pretty “self sufficient”.  Sleeping in the car is OK but it would be better if I had my own bed {grin}.

I had been following the salt conditions for a week before I left and it looked pretty good.  However, last Thursday they got a rain storm and it really messed up the courses and delayed the start of the racing three days.  The “long course” is normally five miles of timed segments.  They had to reduce that to four miles and all of the cars were run on that course.  Normally the long course is reserved for cars that go over 200MPH and the short course is for the rest of the cars.  When they run all the cars  (over 500 entries) on the one course, it is a mess.  One record was set at 48 MPH (a very small motorcycle) and it takes forever for them to travel the course.  It really limits the number of runs all of the cars can make. 

The salt conditions are not all that great, so the big dogs are not going very fast.  So far the fastest speed is about 370 MPH.  When the salt it good, a few cars will go well into the 400 MPH range.

However, it is still Bonneville and that is Mecca for racing (at least for me).  I have been on the salt at sunrise the last two days and fixed my breakfast and coffee while the cars passed by going to the starting line.

Yesterday afternoon I went into town to fill the gas tank.  I could not resist going out to Wendover  Air Force Base.  I have discussed this amazing place in previous blogs.  It was a very active Air Force Base in the 40s and was used to train the crew of the Enola Gay which was the B29 that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan (Link).  The hangers and barracks are still in reasonably good condition – indeed, a movie about WWII could be filmed there with very little reconstruction.

We were saddened in the past that the museum was very small and the folks mentioned that there was very little support for reconstruction of the Enola Gay hanger – primarily because younger folks had the impression that the bombing was an atrocity.  However, this visit made me feel much better.  There is a strong program to stabilize the Enola Gay hanger and do a significant amount of reconstruction.

I am having some issues with the photos I have taken, so I will upload some in the next post.

Today, I will spend about a half of a day on the salt and then start heading back.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Evergreen, CO  (An epilogue to our Europe trip)

Hello from Evergreen, CO  (An epilogue to our Europe trip)

Sunday morning – August 4, 2019   (tenth post of this travelogue)

Well, as you can tell from the title, we made it home and it is sure nice to be here.  We arrived at a few minutes after midnight on Tuesday (7/30).  That was almost exactly a 24 hour journey from when we left our Fiumicino (Rome) apartment!

We first flew from Rome to Philadelphia – a 10 hour flight.  The transfer in Philadelphia was a nightmare.  First, it took us almost an hour from the time we landed to the time we got to the gate.  They parked the plane in a remote area and used a huge transfer vehicle to get us to the gate.   Sounds simple  huh?  The first problem was that American somehow got their signals crossed and we had to wait 20-25 minutes for the transfer vehicle to get to the plane.  Then there was some sort of mix-up on getting the transfer vehicle to the proper arrival gate – another 20-25 minute wait on the tarmac.

Then the fun began.  There was a huge line to clear customs.  They had installed some electronic kiosks that scanned your passport and let you answer the customs questions on a screen.  I  would guess that they have not perfected the system, as it really held things up.  Then we still had to go to a Customs Agento  show him we cleared  the kiosk process.   Then we had to get our checked luggage and take them to the transfer location.  Lastly we had to clear TSA again.

Speaking of clearing customs, in Rome they had a scan system that seems pretty effective – if you are not flagged.   Unfortunately, I was flagged both entering and leaving and had to stand in long lines to go to a customs officer.

The flight from Philadelphia to Denver was OK.  I had upgraded our seats to an exit row (actually, I upgraded seats on all flights where available).   That gave us a ton of legroom, but the seats seemed very narrow and uncomfortable.  They had configured the row to be two seats on each side where there are normally three and apparently installed special seats.

When we got to Denver only one checked bag showed up.  Turns out one bag did not make the connecting flight.  It was delivered the next day.  Also, the suitcase that we shipped from Florence arrived on 8/1 in very good condition (they had done some “packaging” at the Mailbox Etc.store).

Now for some final thoughts.

I think in the back of our minds, we assumed this would be our last trip to  Europe.  I think that is almost certainly the case now.   We have been very fortunate to travel to Europe several times over the years and have seen some fantastic things and experienced incredible events.  But this trip really took a toll  on us.   Our bodies are really letting us know that we are not spring chickens anymore and our endurance has declined.  I am so thankful that I am quite active in the shop (often working on heavy parts) and that helped me deal with all the luggage on this trip.  There could always be an exception, but we will probably focus our future travel on the many  beautiful parts of our country. 

We probably extended the trip a bit more than we should have.  Even though a significant part of the trip was paid for by SU, the cost of each additional day added up.  However, we had a goal to visit new countries and I am not sure that we could have shortened the trip and still met that goal.

We experienced our stays a bit different than we have done in the past where we would try to cram every tourist stop into every day.  This time we went much slower and spent a lot more time “experiencing” the “atmosphere” of each stop.  I think this gave us a different perspective of the various locations.  We “enjoyed” the challenge of shopping at grocery store several times.  We enjoyed our meals in the apartment and soaking up the environment and lifestyle.  We enjoyed our evening strolls and eating at the wonderful sidewalk restaurants at each of our stops.

We were fortunate to have discussions with several local folks so that we could learn more from their perspective.  One memorable discussion was with a special needs teacher while waiting for the train in Bled.  We learned a great deal about life in Slovenia from him.

The school teacher mentioned that crime was very low in Slovenia (and we think the same was true in Croatia).  In our nightly strolls in those countries, we felt very safe.  The same could not be said of Italy.   As we have mentioned, pickpocketing in most major tourist areas in Italy is VERY prevalent.  Pat’s FB group continues to report significant losses including  phones, billfolds and even a passport. 

Some of you may remember the 1987 comedy movie:  “Planes, Trains, and  Automobiles.  It starred Steve Martin and John Candy.  Well, we could have created a sequel:  Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Ships.  If we did, they would be several comedy episodes in the movie {grin}.

We went the whole trip without watching TV – and survived.  We probably could have gotten some British news channels, but I hate their form of the news.  Instead, we kept up on National and Denver news via the internet. 

We did not suffer significantly from jet lag on this trip.  In the past, it has kicked our butts.

As I have noted in the past, we mostly write this blog/travelogue for our own benefit and too keep the family informed that we are still alive.  We find ourselves referring to blog posts from past trips to refresh our memories of certain facts or to just plain relive some great experiences.

That is all for this trip.

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Hello from Fiumicino, Italy (close to Rome)

Hello from Fiumicino, Italy (close to Rome)

Drafted:   Sunday evening – July 28, 2019   (ninth post of this travelogue)

Uploaded:  Tuesday July 30 due to upload issue with last ISP

We are in our final Airbnb for this trip in Fiumicino, Italy (Google Map Link)

 

Pat standing on the balcony of our Fiumicino apartment (Medium)

Pat standing on the balcony of our Fiumicino apartment
 

We chose this location since it is close the Rome airport.  As noted in one of the previous posts the Rome airport is perhaps 25 miles from the center of Rome.  Since we flew in yesterday, it just made sense to stay here.

More general thoughts:

On this trip we have stayed in seven Airbnb units and no hotels!  All of the units had demand type water heaters.  Some worked OK, some not so good with resulting cold showers.  None of the units had garbage disposals.  Some were in very old buildings and some fairly modern.  The two units in Zagreb were furnished in all IKEA including the silverware!  All were fun/unique experiences.

Ikea furniture in Zagreb 2 (Medium)

IKEA furniture in Zagreb

 It appears the Airbnb is becoming a significant business in Europe (and maybe the US as well).  The two Airbnb units we stayed at in Zagreb were owned by  two brothers and they own 5 units.  Their folks own several units in Split. Croatia.

Our Eurail passes were not as big of a value to us on this trip to Europe.  First we did not do as much train travel and secondly the quality of the trains (coupled with the heat) cut short some plans to do more train travel.  The photo below shows the main route we traveled from Rome to  Florence to Venice to Ljubljana and finally Zagreb.  You can see that we traveled around the upper part of the Adriatic Sea.  As we noted earlier, we made the decision not to retrace the route (over 20 hours and 5 transfers), but rather to fly to Rome via Athens.  BTW, the photo is a screen capture of an app that I installed on my phone on our last trip to Europe.  It is an amazing tool.

 

Our train route (Medium)

Our train route on this trip

 

We have talked about the stairs and walking on our trip.  As we have noted the Europeans say that the first floor is the one above the ground level – what we call the second story.   All of our apartments were on the second or third story (US) except one that was on the fifth level (fortunately with an elevator).  All of the apartments we stayed in had very high ceilings which was great, but that meant that each story was much taller than those in the  US.  To give you a feeling, there were 28 stairs going to our second floor (US) second apartment in Zagreb.

As we have noted, we often ate our meals in the apartment (at least the last few stays where we were mostly in the “relaxing” (that translated to too tired and hot to do much {grin}).  We ate a lot of the great bread (much different from our bread) and cheese, plus tomatoes and mozzarella for lunch and an occasional dinner.  For breakfast we had cheese and bread plus yogurt and  Muesli.  Sounds a bit boring, but it really hit the spot.

Our typical lunch and sometimes dinner (Medium)

A typical meal when we ate in the apartments

 

Now, let’s finish up our Zagreb stay. 

As noted in the last post, we changed to a second Airbnb in Zagreb.  It was closer to the main area of Zagreb.  Indeed, our apartment overlooked what is called a “¾ Grand Union” of trolley tracks.  It is described (and listed) in this link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_union.  What that means is that the electric trolleys can come from any direction into the intersection and then, by switching, can go in most any other direction (straight or turn corner).  Obviously I had a ball watching them.

 

Our second apartment in Zagreb (Medium)

Our second apartment in Zagreb.
We were on the second floor.

Trolley tracks in front of apartment 2 in Zagreb (Medium)

Trolley tracks in front of our apartment

For the most part we stayed in the apartments during the very hot hours of the day and then ventured out in the early evening.  One of our strolls took us to the Zagreb Cathedral and then to a great little restaurant that looked out on the cathedral.  The cathedral was built in the early 13th century.  It is currently undergoing some reconstruction work.  The inside of the cathedral is amazing.

Zagreb Cathedral (Medium)

Zagreb Cathedral

On the way home from our dinner, we stopped at a great little sidewalk snack shop and split a wonderful cherry crepe.  It was so good we went back the next night.

Tomorrow we start our journey home.  Rome to Philadelphia to Denver.

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Zagreb, Croatia Part 2

Hello from Zagreb, Croatia Part 2

 Thursday afternoon – July 25, 2019   (eigth post of this travelogue)

We are in our second Airbnb in Zagreb (Google Map link).  We will explain why we are in the second unit later in this post

More general thoughts:

We had to laugh when we were in Venice, as we frequently observed the boat drivers texting while driving.  I wonder if there is a law about that?   Fortunately, the boats are going very slow and they look up frequently.

I think we have mentioned that we have gone to the grocery stores at most every location we have been in.  That is always an adventure, since we can’t read labels and the products don’t always have a descriptive picture on them.  At first I was going by myself and Pat was getting a little uptight that I would come back with bread and cheese for our breakfast (and sometimes lunch).  The first time she went with me she better understood how difficult it is to  shop.   We have now added yogurt (hard to tell what kind of yogurt you are getting)  and muesli to our breakfast and tomatoes and mozzarella to our lunches.  Of course, we always seem to find a bakery close by and get wonderful desserts. Still we have lots of wonderful bread and cheese {grin}.

I have had a translator app on my phone for sometime and it comes in handy for some of the edible products.  We frequently talk about the “mystery meat” in Europe and the translator helps a bit with that.

The street addresses are very strange to us.  For example, the address of the first apartment in Zagreb was:  Preradovićeva ul. 37, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia.  The street (Preradovićeva ul) was only a few blocks long.  I can’t imagine how the taxi drivers know all the strange streets, but they have not used a map once during our travels.  The other issue is getting a taxi by phone, since there is no way that I can pronounce the street close enough that they can figure out what I am saying.  As I mentioned earlier, some companies will let you schedule via the internet and that is great (plus the taxis are always there at the time you request).

During this trip and in past trips to Europe we have noted that almost every square yard of wall (or doors) is tagged with graffiti.  A very small part of the graffiti could almost be called art, but most of it is just plain terrible looking.

 

First Apartment in Zagreb (Medium)

Photo of our first apartment in Zagreb. 
Note all of the graffiti.

 

We were told that the crime rate in Slovenia and Croatia is very low and that you are safe to walk on the streets at night.  That would suggest that the graffiti mentioned above is not gang related (I hope).  However in Italy, the pickpocket issue is a very significant problem.  There were several reports from demonstrators on the trip had been hit (communicated  via a special  Facebook group created  for the trip).  One of the demonstrators from Colorado told us her father had his phone stolen shortly after they got to Rome.

The heat here in Europe (yes I know it is hot in Denver) is really oppressive.  It is quite humid here and that make it feel much more uncomfortable.  This past week it has been in the high nineties each day.  That has caused us do quite a bit less sightseeing and has resulted in revising our travel plans.  To be honest, we were so busy before we left that we did not do a good job of researching our travel.   We wanted to visit new countries and essentially threw a dart or two and ended up in Slovenia and Croatia.  Both are well worth visiting but both countries have presented travel logistic problems (mostly because of the very old trains without AC and schedules that can’t be trusted and are limited in number).

As a result of the heat and train issues, we removed a planned trip to Budapest, Hungary from our itinerary fairly early in the trip and scheduled the second Airbnb here in Zagreb in its place.  Our next major change we the decision not to take the train back to Rome.  Part of the decision was the travel time (about 18 hours), coupled with the large number of transfers needed to make the trip and, the unreliable train schedule (with some very tight transfers).  Another major factor was the issue of getting our luggage to the next train which usually meant several trips up and down the stairs that lead to the train platform.  Lastly, all of the trains were “National” meaning that they were the older trains.  So, we have chosen to bite the bullet and fly from Zagreb to Rome (via Athens).

When we switched to staying in Zagreb an extra three days (instead of going to Budapest), we had given a thought to “cheating” and travelling part way into Hungry and Serbia on day trips to have lunch and add to our country count.  The first issue is that there is some sort of dispute and trains no longer travel from Croatia to Serbia.  The second issue that the train trip into Hungry would be about 3 hours on a hot second class train trip.  So, we are simply enjoying our time in the apartments watching all the activity (great people watching).

As for the travel part of the travelogue, there is not much to report.  Our train from Ljubljana to Zagreb was a National train meaning that it was an older train.  It did have one first class car, but no AC.   With the windows down, it was not too bad.  The scenery was beautiful.  Lots of farm land and wonderful houses that are typical of what we call Swiss architecture. 

The first day we got here I walked to a cigar store so that I could purchase a couple of Cuban cigars.  Some background explanation:  First of all,  I have been enjoying a half a cigar most days that I work  in the shop.  That gives me a chance to relax in my comfortable shop chair and it something I enjoy.  But the major factor is based on a cruise that my folks took me on in 1954 (I was 12 years old).  The cruise was to Havana, Cuba.  I vividly remember several places we visited including the amazing Tropicana night club, Morro Castle, and a visit to a cigar factory.  All of cigars were being hand wrapped and I knew at that time that sometime in my life I would smoke a Cuban cigar.  Of course, they are illegal in the USA, but you can buy them in a foreign county and bring them in for personal use legally. 

The  temperature drops enough in the early evening that we are able to do some strolling.  Two nights we ended up in a wonderful square about a half mile from the apartment where we had a great dinners.

Dinner on the square in Zagreb (Medium)

Dinner on the square in Zagreb

 

That is all for this post.

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Hello from Zagreb, Croatia 

Hello from Zagreb, Croatia  Wednesday morning – July 24, 2019   (seventh post of this travelogue)

We are in another great Airbnb in Zagreb, Croatia (Google Map Link).  More about Zagreb in the next post.

More general thoughts:

Stairs, stairs, and more stairs.  We encounter stairs everywhere.  Most of our Airbnb locations are on the second or third floor and each floor is quite a bit taller than in the USA.  In addition to all the stairs, we have been walking some fairly long distances in each of the cities we have been in.  We get pretty tired, but the “fake” knees are doing pretty well {grin}.

Train thoughts.  The trains in Slovenia and Croatia are quite old.  If they have first class (most do not), it is pretty primitive with no AC.  At least one of the trains we rode was over an hour off schedule – not something we are used to in Europe.

We have been to Europe several times together and many more for me on business.  It is fun to compare the changes and similarities between the conditions of our trips.  In the early days, it was almost impossible to find internet connections (much more so that the USA).  Now wi-fi is available in every Airbnb and many restaurants etc. (same as the US and speeds seem comparable).  In the early days you had to change money in every country.  The Euro has change that for the most part (Croatia has its own money).  It continues to be a bit of a challenge to arrange a taxi, but some have internet scheduling (Uber was not available in most places we have been).  Cell phone use for USA phones was not available until recently.  AT&T now offers several plans.  They are all a bit pricey, but the use of your phone is seamless (text, call, internet).

Making my coffee has been a bit of a challenge.  They have very small coffee pots (basically to make an espresso).  The pots have water in the bottom, a strainer that you put coffee (almost a powder) in and then screw the top on.  The water boils up through the strainers (one in the top part as well) and fills the pot on the top with brewed coffee.  A bit old fashioned (we used to use the same system, on a larger scale, in the drugstore I worked at in the 50s), but it works well.

Coffee Pot (Medium)

Typical small coffee pot we saw on our trip

Public Bathrooms (water closets in Europe) often charge admission.  Typically it was 1 Euro (bit over a dollar).  That fee did seem to offer a clean facility. 

Water Closet receipt (Medium)

Water Closet (bathroom) receipt

Now back to our travels.  On Thursday (7/18) we traveled to Ljubljana.  It was an “interesting” trip.  The first leg was on a train to Trieste, Italy.  Then we had to switch to a bus.  The transfer time was not all that great and we did not understand that we had to go from the train terminal to the bus terminal (found that out after waiting in line for about 15 minutes).  We had to hustle to the bus station (fairly close), stand in another line to get our tickets (mostly covered by our Eurail pass) and then quickly get to the bus – no stress there.

Ljubljana (pronounced luby-onna) is a fairly modern city.  Our apartment was in the older part of town, but the buildings were probably less than 70 years old.  We had a great apartment on the 5th floor – fortunately we had an elevator.  The apartment had a small balcony that was fun to sit on.  It had a view of the main attraction – the castle and overlooked a fun street café that we ate at a couple of times.  The AC was not functioning (stated that in the apartment information), but the nights cooled down enough that it was not a problem.

Our apartment in Ljubljana (Medium)

Our apartment in Ljubljana. 
Our unit was on the fifth floor (top of photo)
 
 
View from our balcony (Medium)

Mr Smiley enjoying a drink on the balcony 
The castle can be seen at the upper right of the picture
 

BTW, I am aware that the email version of this blog has photo orientation issues.  I have tried to solve the problem (has to do with the data contained within the photo file from our iPhone).  I believe that the above photo may show me standing on my head.

Friday we toured the castle perched high above Ljubljana.  We took the funicular to the top.  From there we walked all around the castle.  It originally dates back to the 11th century.  The views from the castle are spectacular.

Funicular to Castle in Ljubljana (Medium)

Funicular to the castle
 

Castle in Ljubljana (Medium)

The Ljubljana Castle

View from the Castle in Ljubjuana (Medium)

View from the Ljubljana Castle

Saturday we rode the train to Bled, Slovenia (two legs with a total time of about 1.5 hours).  The  train station is about 100-150 feet above Lake Bled.  Lake Bled is very picturesque.  When we arrived at the lake there was a huge international swimming meet including a 1250 meter event.  We took a “train” tour around the lake and had wonderful views of both the castle above the lake and the church on the island in middle of the lake.  We then returned to Ljubljana via the train (second class, no AC, one hour late).  All in all a fun day.

Walking from the train station in Bled (Medium)

Steep walk from the train station to Lake Bled.
It is over 100 feet vertical walk on a steep trail with many steps at the bottom.
No taxis were available so we had to walk back up (holey crap!!!)

 

A view of Lake Bled (Medium)

A view of Lake Bled with the church on the island in the middle of the lake.
You can also see the castle on the hill in the left of the photo.
(Yes, I took this picture and am kind of proud of it.)
 
 
Our train in Bled (Medium)

We took this “train” around the lake.
(No, it is not part of the Eurail pass {grin})
 
 
The castle above Lake Bled (Medium)

The castle overlooking lake Bled

 

That is all for this post.

 

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