From Thessloniki , Greece we went to a town called Volos to catch a ferry. The bus took six hours instead of two because this region just suffered biblical flooding. We had to drive around Mt. Olympus and ended up having to drive through some hard hit areas. It was thirteen days after these floods and some of the places were really in shambles. We then caught a ferry to the island of Skopelos, Greece. We avoided the well known islands like Santorini because we knew they would be crowded. This place is amazing. Good food, good people, on the water, beautiful beaches, and laid back. Plus it’s shoulder season so it’s quiet along with perfect weather. You should put this place on your must visits!
We took a day trip to Mt.Olympus and the ruins of Dion. We hiked up for about 45 minutes to get good views from the mountain. The weather was great and it was not to busy.
We spent several days in Thessloniki, Greece which is known for it’s food scene. It was a bustling city among ancient ruins. There would be a playgrounds next to ruins. Buildings were being built around found ruins. The city was very nice with great food, shopping, and of course sightseeing. The city is a port so it lies on the water. We loved it! And yes, everything is graffiti laced in every place we have been so far up to about six feet.
Lake Ohrid, albania
We finished up our time in Albania by staying in the big city of Tirana. This is a nice city where we went to museums and bunkers that taught about the realities of communism. It’s crazy to think they were shut out from the world until 1991. We took a day trip to Berat to meet up with my in laws and tour the old town and fortress. Lastly we went to Korce. This is not a town where tourists frequent and we thought going there would give us a taste of how locals lived. It was a nice town and everyone was friendly. We then took a bus across the border to Greece. We have taken many across border buses at this point, but this was the most interesting and not in a good way. We were ready for Greece after eight hours on the bus.
We have traveled to several cities in the past couple of weeks. First, we visited Plav, a little mountain town in Montenegro that has amazing hiking in the Accursed mountains. This region along with North Albania seems to be a place that we are encountering before tourists of all kinds find out about it. In a couple of years this place will be built up, but for now it’s quiet and peaceful. We then did a stop over in Podgorica, the capital of a Montenegro. This town is not much to write about. Basically a small area with hip bars and lots of shopping. Then we took a bus to Shkoder, Albania. This town is so cute and there are few tourists. We walked around with all the locals and saw how they live. Next we went to Theth, Albania. This town is isolated and surrounded by the beautiful Albanian Alps. They used to have a gravel road the last 30 mins into town, but paved it about a year ago so now it’s more accessible to people who want to visit. Typically you needed a four wheel drive to come here. We stayed with a local family at their bed and breakfast. They were so hospitable and cooked great food. We also hiked around and enjoyed the scenery.
Zablijak, Montenegro is a small town of around 1700 people. It is known for skiing and hiking. We enjoyed the change of pace from the crowds of people, along with the cooler temperatures. We hiked in the Durmitor National Park and did some local lake hikes. This area is beautiful and apparently snow covered 6 months of the year per the locals. When we were there no snow was anywhere to be found (phew) and the lakes were beginning to dry up to start the cycle all over again.
We traveled to Kotor, Montenegro after visiting Dubrovnik. We took a bus and crossed the border with our passports. It only took one and half hours to go through immigration, which was a new experience. Normally we fly, so crossing by bus was different. Upon arrival we noticed the calm of Croatia turn a little more feisty. This reminds me of being in Italy many years ago. We hiked to the top of a mountain and got beautiful views of the bay of Kotor. We ate our way through meat trays and bought some new items from the farmers market. This place is beautiful, but I wish people would do better about picking up trash and cigarette butts. They make the beauty look a bit grungy. The people were very friendly and we enjoyed our time here.
We spent one day in Dubrovnik, Croatia on our way to Kotor, Montenegro. It was very hilly and the old town was nice, despite it being a busy travel season. I recommend going in the off season.
Korcula, Croatia is amazing. This island is the six largest island in the Adriatic Sea and did not feel bombarded with vacationers. We swam each day in the crystal clear water on many different pebble beaches. Some new foods we tried were pag cheese, which is a new favorite of mine. We also tried Posip and Grk wine grown on this island at two local wineries. The wineries are much more laid back here than in California. Posip was my favorite wine. This town seems like something out of a fairytale.
Split was very busy so we took a boat ride over to a smaller town called Solta. Within the island there are several towns. We enjoyed the laid back feeling of this area and tried several excellent seafood dishes. Squid ink cuttlefish risotto, smoked tuna salad, sardines in olive oil and sea brim with vegetables are the food images above. We also got to see how local people live in Croatia.
Split, Croatia was beautiful and busy. Located on the Adriatic Sea, this is the second largest city in Croatia. We spent many hours walking around and enjoying the scenery. This area was very popular with tourists. Since it was so busy we opted to take a day trip to a smaller island known as Solta. More on that to come. We found a great local honey on this trip. They are known for having honey that has antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties.
The first part of our trip was a visit to Zagreb, Croatia. This city is the capital of Croatia and the largest city. We traveled around to many noted locations and tried several local foods. We also cooked at home after visiting the local farmers market. The lasagna looking dishes in the images above are known as strukli. They come in savory and sweet flavors. It’s like a mochi lasagna noodle with a cottage cheese/flavor filling topped with a creamy cheese sauce. We also tried a bean soup with smoked sausage known as Grah. Croatia is known for their local smoked meats and this dish is one way they highlight these meats. Lastly, we spent a day at the contemporary art museum and enjoyed viewing regional pieces of art. Zagreb was a very relaxed city and the people were extremely friendly. On to our next destination!