Europe 2.0 – Day 27 23 June

Today we woke up bright and early to go to the Schonbrunn Palace and I’m glad we did because later we heard that the queue for tickets can be quite long as usual. We bought the classic pass, but in hindsight the imperial pass would have been enough because the additional gardens (Privy garden, maze and orangery) weren’t extremely worthwhile. The Gloriette was included in this pass as well but later we found out that it is possible to get a Google view of the Palace without going into and up the Gloriette. 

But anyways I digress. Although we were the early birds, there were already school groups starting their tours punctually at 8am. I am kinda envious at how they have so many opportunities for such exciting learning journeys. Groups of school children are common sights in touristy places in Europe. The audio guide was nice to listen to. I learnt some things about the Royal Family and their interpersonal relationships with one another. The Palace rooms are smaller than I expected (as compared to Doge’s Palace in Venice, for example) and the sign of royalty and glamour are found mainly on the decor of the rooms instead of their size. For example, there were rooms with lacquers that carried oriental designs and portraits room with works painted with blue strokes so as to evoke a resemblance to porcelain. The rooms had many paintings as well, mostly of the Royal family members. Elaborate frames, in position in their elaborate ways, framed other pictures like their collection from Mongolia. 

The very notable persons throughout the whole tour would be SiSi, Franz Joseph I, Maria Theresa and her husband (is it Francis? I forgot.) We learnt about their personalities and characters through stories told to us from the audio guide, and it was pretty interesting from start to end. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Afterwards we went to the gardens, which were so huge… It must have been at least the size of 10 football fields? Trees resembling paddle pops line the paths, and they appeared so because the crowns of the trees were trimmed so neat and rectangularly at right angles, supported by one cylindrical sturdy trunk. This immediately reminded me of Versailles again, just like the exterior of the entire Palace did. Great, I thought, because a few months ago I was just thinking about how much I’ve missed the latter. Everything resembled Versailles gardens except Schrobunn’s had a flat landscape. The gardens with their perfectly grown flowers, blooming in whatever design was drawn out, sprawled in front of us. The sky was overcast but a pretty good day to come here. 

The hike up to the Gloriette was steep but we were awarded with a grand view of the Palace’s compound after some effort. At this point in time I was pretty troubled by how I had to settle a few things for electives. It was kinda stressful and annoying but ok whatever. 

For the rest of our Palace tour, we visited the other attractions included in our ticket and suddenly big fat rain drops started pouring. It was the start of slew of showers that welcomed us to the rest of our trip. :/

For the rest of the afternoon we went on a free walking tour. Our guide, imo, was very experienced and informative. She even used an iPad to show us multimedia material, such as a speech by Hitler which was made at the Hofburg Palace. I really enjoyed the tour because I got to understand so much more about Vienna’s history and architecture. We started off at Albertina museum and then saw the opera house. Later, She introduced us to the anti war and anti fascism monument as well as its great significance; it is a form of sincere apology from Austria about its involvement in WWII. Then we crosses to the park (name already forgotten) to see the Mozart Statue. 

You see, we already saw the statue before and took photos with it but with a guide around, we also learnt about some facts surrounding Mozart through the interpretation of some aspects of the statue. 

Moving on we went to the New Market Square with its beautiful fountain with Athena (I think) on it. Over here we learnt that we’re very privileged to drink the Austrian tap water as it comes directly from the alps, through a well developed system of pipes. 

Later we were given a toilet break but I need to tell the guide that this is a bad, bad idea if I had ever the chance to, because we lost the whole group after this break lol. YS couldn’t find the correct meeting point to gather and I saw the whole group walking away in front of my eyes… Dang it. 

We rushed over to St Stephan’s cathedral, hoping to bump into them there but unfortunately after looking around for 20 minutes, I think we lost them for good. We went in to see the church ourselves and u was dampened by the fact that the catacombs were closed just upon our arrival. Not wasting anymore time, we headed to the state hall, which is also the old Austria National library. 

This library was commissioned by Charles Joseph’s (I think) to store the Royal family’s large collection of books. 

The last time I saw an old library was in Oxford but I think I had a better experience over here because visitors were free to take photos and walk about by themselves. We visited with an audio guide that explained how the whole building was designed and planned (wing of wat and wing of peace with a great statue of Charles in the middle). They also had a great exhibition of the free masons which was sooo interesting and definitely a wonderful eye opener. We only had 1h in the 70m long library but it was certainly not enough. Nonetheless I took away so much from one fruitful afternoon and was already very contented. ๐Ÿ™‚

Food in Austria wasn’t v spectacular imo so to save money, we settled for fast food. YS ate her leftover fried rice from lunch while I had hotdog. YUM! We went back for an early night, excited to start our salzburg trip with BEN. ^^

Europe 2.0 – Day 26 22 June

Today we’re leaving Slovenia for Austria! Kinda excited because it means we’re almost coming to an end of our journey heh… 

The train was late and everyone who had a connecting train was PANICKING because the time that they provide for transit is extremely short (for us it was 6 minutes…) 

But because of this, I met new friends again! How lucky! So basically there’s these 2 big sized and middle aged couple (about 30 something years old) who have been staying at our hostel. They looked the nicest amongst other edgy outgoing American 20 somethings so we sometimes smiled at each other. They are also occupying the other twin private room on the same floor and are catching a connecting train to Salzburg! They only have 8 minutes for transit at Villach and we spoke when the lady (Elbe) wanted to ask the train conductor about the transiting so I asked her for a favour to ask for us as well. 

Later we started chatting because like everyone else, I’m sure, wonders where we are from and our actual age (we probably look v young to them). They are from South Africa and are taking the gap year of their lives! WOW! After this transition, they will be migrating to Australia, where they will try to find jobs when they are there. 

I feel that this is an extremely bold move as I’ve heard of people who migrated without any secured positions and later cannot find a job. But of course I didn’t tell them that and later we chatted about many things such as the safety of Johannesburg. Previously I heard from the Chinese couple (Dr and Mrs Lo) that this is a really unsafe place because many people carry guns around. And later I confirm it with Elbe and Richter who are from Johannesburg! Incidentally their reason for moving is because they feel that the city is too dangerous… I wonder who it is like to live somewhere where you couldn’t feel safe and protected. I guess in Singapore, we would never have to fully understand how they feel (thankfully) but I could empathise with why they would want to leave their country. 

Since I may be going to Africa in the coming year, I also asked them for advice regarding its touristy attractions and safety. They were curious about travelling in Asia and so I was ad to return the favour of providing travel tips. They were also interested to understand about Singapore because they’ve watched information programs about how our country is like. I briefly told them about our education system and the high stress levels, something which is unheard of for school children in South Africa. 

We did talk about the countries that we’re visiting during our respective trips but I really like how the conversation centred main around understanding where each other came from. And perhaps because we’re so different yet have curiosities for each other’s origins, the conversation became much richer with exchange of culture and information. And I say this because many a time, I wondered why Western travellers are so interested with making new friends and speaking to new people when most of their convo topics flowed around where they’ve been, what they liked etc. It is kinda superficial imo… 

But I think some people just genuinely like getting to know other people or discussing about travelling. Still, I don’t think I could carry a convo about this alone. Afterall, friendships made overseas are, like what YS feels, transient. What’s the point of asking where you been etc etc. It is almost like a game of comparison. 

At Villach, we bade goodbye and exchanged emails. I think they caught their train and so did we! Whee! 

The entire 5h train ride was super scenic. Rolling green hills, small settlements, cows, farms, rocky mountains and blue skies with fluffy clouds. I think this route could itself be a wonderful tourist attraction. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

We reached our hostel pretty late at 2pm, meaning that we definitely could not make it in time for any walking tours, sadly. At first I was doubtful of our hostel because the main counter is in a separate building from our sleeping quarters, which means no order, no discipline and whatsoever. 

But thankfully, nobody was being rowdy and the place is pretty clean although very basic. The bathing and WC facilities were clean and almost always available even though they were many rooms and beds in one apartment. 

Having fully given up on running according to any schedule, we left for lunch, famished. It proved to be a good decision because later, as we found out, the hofburg Palace was a place that houses many museums, not am attraction itself which we’d have to pay to visit. 

The weather was extremely hot and the sun was burnnnninggg. My mood was dampened by an overly sunny day because my eyes could hardly open to see anything and it. Is. Just. Too. Warm. 

We started our sightseeing with Mariahilfer the shopping street, Palm House, Hofburg Palace, Museum of Natural History, Art Museum, Parliament House, City Hall (Rathaus), Burgtheater and University of Vienna. Well, we thought might as well not waste this day so see more right? 

At Hofburg we spent SO BLOODY LONG trying to find the ‘Austrian National Library’ since I had it on my list. There was a function at 6pm and it was too late for us to go in… YS was having cramps/bloatedness and had trouble walking too long. We took many small breaks to hydrate and have toilet breaks. 

The Palm house was very underwhelming from the outside but I do admit that the architecture is unique, something like a greenhouse. 

Most of the buildings that we pass by, we didn’t go in (either closed or need admission fee) and some of them had ugly scaffolding in front of them. Sigh. Nonetheless all the buildings were gigantic and so is the entire city centre. We just kept walking and sweating… 

Things got better when we came to the University because we took the opportunity go in and venture! It looks too beautiful to be a university, we thought. (but then again, Cambridge and Oxford are pretty amazing too). It had a lawn with many outdoor seating and people were holding discussions or doing their work there, while we slacked our asses off, tired from a day of walking. Then we went into the respective faculties and huge stairways led us to them. (Huge stairways were a compared by huge lamps, huge corridors, huge doors… Everything in Austria ia gigantic.) We even chances upon a class having tutorial, and also an empty lecture hall to pose for photos heh. #tourist

Afterwards, everything was much more enjoyable because the sun was setting and the weather turned cooler. I quickly directed us to see the hunderhaus before it becomes too dark to take photos. 

Along the way, we walked past Vienna’s River (seems like each European city had a river flowing through it). There was a floating bar+restaurant+fitness centre+indoor football+swimming pool. Many people were lounging on the top deck, soaking in the sun (hmph). There was also a variety of food, from German sausages to Chinese restaurants (we almost gave in). The part along the river is always full of life. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

After the Hunderhaus, we walked to the Prater, which I’m glad we chose to visit when the sky was finally dark!!! Many attractions came to life with their decorative lights imo. 

The Prater is the oldest theme park in the world! The rides can generally be classified into – old and new. Although the former ones were kinda childish and unfashionable, I really love them because where else would you find themed rides? (Themed =/= bases on movies.) 

They created rides with themes and decorations like gold mining, ghost, monsters, circus, animals etc. And they varied from bumper cars to log rides; you have it all – land, water and air. 

But of course there’s also the modern ferris wheel and things like space shot and bungee jumping for the thrill seekers. Meh you can find these in any theme parks but nicely furnished theme rides? Gem. 

Europe 2.0 – Day 25 21 June

Yet another early morning! *yawns again*

Our hostel manager was going to Lake Bohinj to pick up some guests and offered us a free ride. It is probably the best thing about our stay with them so far…lol

At 9am we already reached the info centre at Ribcev Laz. And after getting info from the tourist centre, we began our 1h walk to Ukanc, another town situated around the lake, which is 12km in circumference. Along the way we found a nice wooden platform that stretched out to the lake, which makes a good spot for photos and SWIMMING! Other parts were ‘fenced off’ from us by trees growing on the pebbly banks of the lake and we have been walking along the road so far.

The lake was extremely colddddd! At first I wanted to plunge in from the platform but I was too chicken so I walked to the bank and waded in slowly. BRRRR! For some reasons I was more intimidated by this lake that the sea… Maybe because it was very dark in the depths of the lake (could also need it was deeper than the Croatian sea that I swam in as well). Anyway I was out very quickly as I wasn’t confident of swimming too far and for longer durations. I tried to swim alongside fishes but they all escaped when I approached Hahaha T^T some of the small ones swam in the shallow shores and were maybe 10cm or so from me. I hope I didn’t accidentally stepped on them!

Later we reached the Vogel cable car and it took 4mins for it to bring us to a mountain 1km above sea level. The view was amazing; we could see Lake Bohinj in its entirety (even our cameras couldnt capture the whole thing). We could see the alps surrounding the lake as well and they were rugged, manly Rocky mountains that stood with a face that had many lines running across it. I had a delicious Slovenian veg and meat stew there, overlooking this beautiful view. Then we explored the area in Vogel. A bit regretful to have given the chair lift  a miss because we didn’t buy the tickets for it when we were at the office. But it’s ok because we bumped into a Slovenian couple who started talking to us. It was the man’s first time in bohinj and he even thought that Singapore was in Korea!! HAHAHA! (Now I wonder how many people actually know where sg was when they go ‘ohhh’.)

But we weren’t bothered because both of them were so nice! They told us they were just discussing how old we were and if we should be travelling with our parents Hahaha! The man also told us Slovenia has a population of 2 million (I’m envious) and later I did some research which tells me Sg has 3x their population and is yet, 3x smaller… Sigh.

Later we took the cable car down and headed for the Slavia waterfall. The way there took us a gruelling 1h+ journey, some parts on the roads and some on Rocky terrains. Thankfully the latter wasn’t as steep as yesterday’s so I could complete it quite easily and without a wooden stick. :p

By the time we reached, I think YS and I had too many waterfalls to see in this trip to be impressed haha. I feel that the gorges that we saw along the way were more impressive. At one of them we saw an American solo traveller who lauded YS for carrying an umbrella to shield from the sun. And later he joked that the waterfall ran out of water (I took 5s to get it omg).

Grey clouds were gathering in the distance so we decided to leave quickly. Thankfully I spotted a couple getting their car and they could let us hitch a ride back to the info centre. It saved us 2h+ of journey on foot…or alternatively 1h on foot and 1h of waiting time for the bus. Phew!!!

When we arrive back at the info centre, there was time so I took another swim. This time i enjoyed myself more because the waters were warmer and there were people around swimming as well (despite the thunder).

All in all Lake Bohinj was less touristy than bled, and is itself is surrounded by more nature since it is part of the Triglav National Park. Would highly recommend anyone to do a day trip there! (rmb to bring swimming stuff :))

Europe 2.0 – Day 24 20 June

Another early morning *yawns*

Today we woke up slightly later, at 730am but make that 7am because we stay right beside a church and it sounds its be every 15 minutes. At around 7:03am, it will ring every second until 7:05am. So that’s my alarm for today. 

Besides disliking the atmosphere of this hostel (I mentioned in the previous post that it’s too outgoing and rowdy for me), the room practically has nothing except 2 beds and one table. No cupboards, hangers, chairs… But it’s a twin private so I slept well hehe. 

Yesterday night we were super undecided on how we’d be going about our itinerary because I was afraid of cycling in Europe after my terrible experience in Marjan Hill in Split. I was afraid that we had to cycle along cars and passersby again, which would be less attention on the experience and sights, more on trying not to hurt myself and those around me. 

In the end the bicycles at the hostels were too big for us so we had to take a bus to Lake Bled. And from there, I happened to find out about a bus going to Vintgar Gorge at 930am. Perfect for us because we reached around 920am! The last return bus was at 1145am and that means we’d have convenient transportation to and from the gorge, and as well as adequate time to see it. 

The gorge itself was very beautiful and imo beats Taroko Gorge that I saw in Hualien, Taiwan. 

Firstly the weather was bright and cooling when I saw the former, but rainy and slippery when I saw the latter. 

Secondly Vintgar gorge was closely surrounded by beautiful whitish/grey mountainous terrains, adding a rugged feel. 

Moreover, the river that flows beneath the walking platforms is not very far from us, maybe only 1m. The waters have a transparent to translucent azure gradient from its circumference to centre. And like Plitvice, we saw fishes swimming in the river. Many coniferous trees surrounded us as we completed our 1.6km trail along the gorge. On the way there were many children, dogs, older people with their hiking sticks, school groups and even a group of special needs teenagers. Mother nature something we all have in common. 

Along the bank, I also saw stacks of rocks that different visitors have contributed to. They’re all really cute and added character to the gorge. Some parts the river flowed faster gushing down elevated terrain and then forming mini waterfalls, while in other parts the river flowed slowly, only carrying gentle waves with the blow of the breeze. Both were relaxing to watch. At the end there was a waterfall but we had no time to see because it would be time to go back to catch our return bus. We sped walked our way back to the bus and arrived again in bled by 12nn.

Slovenia was a great place to meet people. Somehow, we spoke to the highest number of travellers on this trip. We met the Lo family on the previous day (see my previous post). And while walking at Vintgar gorge, we met 2 groups of Israelis who helped take photos for us, to whom we returned the favour, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰ On the bus back we met an English language teacher from US, who now works in Spain. And later we’ll be meeting more people… (stay tuned; alternatively if you’re already bored reading till here, skip to the end for the good part heh) 

Anyways we didn’t expect to eat a proper lunch today so we packed food with us. But I had hoped to try Bled Cream cake and that led us to Slasicarna Zima. As its name suggests, mostly cream – whipped and vanilla. Puff tasty on top and below the cream. We slacked there for a long time until 1pm+ rolled around and we started walking again

First we headed to the Bled Castle and that involved many steps. Seeing how underwhelming it is from below and seeing the student price (7โ‚ฌ), we decided not to go in. Then we took the painstaking hike back down. The main attraction of the castle isnt itself but the promised view of bled, which we’d already be seeing later from a panoramic view point on the hills. 

Then we started our walk around Lake Bled, a bit dampened by nothing else to do (because maybe we were too efficient in the morning haha). We stopped many times along our way to sit down, eat fruits/snacks and did nothing much. There were many people swimming (wished I brought my own piece along) or rowing in the lake haha. And the bells of the church in ‘the island’ kept ringing in the distance Hahaha. 

The original plan was to see Ojstrica signpost and then hike up to enjoy the bird’s eye view. We didn’t pass it until 4pm and that began a gruelling journey for me… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The entire way up was probably paved by a tractor or something – it was so steep and rocky… The middle of the trail had a lot of rocks and the 2 sides flanking it lesser. I alternated my steps between which I think may cause me to slip to death (I have a phobia of falling)… 

Occasionally some parts have fallen tree barks and leaves that were dampened – those were the best. The worst were long, steep segments that have small sandy rocks. I picked up a wooden stick along the way… And YS had to stop often to wait for me ><

Alas we completed missed Ojstrica and went instead to Mala Ostojna LOL! (The latter is a higher viewpoint than the former and probably unnecessary to go to). I felt a bit sad because the gruelling journey could have been shorter if we didn’t miss our original destination. Where was it?! I was pretty sure we followed the right track as there was only one path… 

Even finding Mala Ostojna was difficult. We first mistakenly went to somewhere we thought was the viewpoint, but actually turned out to be a bench overlooking the opposite side of the lake. We were awarded with views of green pastures and hills. It looked something like a children’s play set as cars were passing at an idyllic pace below us and appeared extremely tiny. The breeze was good too but I was stressed that we still have a long way to find our panoramic view!!! 

We found Mala Ostojna in the end, 5 minutes hike from the bench. Another couple was already there and later we found out that they were from our hostel! They were super friendly and we took photos of one another with the lake. YS loved the view, as did I but I was internally freaking out about going the treacherous way down. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Anyways I feel that having seem the view from the top, there may be no need to see the lake anymore afterwards as it is the best view of the lake.

(And IMO it is the point of the whole lake/coming here.) 

I mean, it’s almost whimsical/magical that an island has sprouted outta nowhere in the lake, making it look outta a fairytale. It helped that the lake is a very, very true blue, something that is difficult to appreciate when you’re looking from ground level. I felt that people of Bled must be really lucky for this lake and its island as it sprung out so many opportunities for them, people of a small province in Slovenia. 

Going back down was as difficult as I thought. I was walking super duper ultra slowly, sweat dripping everywhere. Going down a steep slow had 2 ways of doing so – going quickly and dangerously (like a ninja with its flitting pace), or slowly and dangerously (the longer I stood on a spot to calculate where to place my foot next means more time for the stones below me to give way). Either way it was painstaking zzz.

Then we found the way to Ojstrica. 

IT IS THE WORSTTTTT!!!! 

THE TRAIL WAS SO SMALL AND NONEXISTENT. 

IT WAS FILLED WITH BIG, JAGGED AND UNEVEN ROCKS. 

OMG. 

I was freaking scared and asked YS to recce in front if it was the right way. And indeed it was, so I need to haul myself there somehow. 

And I did. On my all fours… Zzz (Other people did it on their 2 feet.) 

I was so zzzzz by the time I reached there (because of my ‘ordeal’) that I couldn’t appreciate it anymore. By the way, Ojstrica is nicer to some because the island appears larger and would be a good photo spot. Whereas from Ostojna you could see more, like the whole outline of Lake Bled and also its surrounding environment (the little towns and farms). 

On my way down, I have decided to completely give up and go down on my butt… :/ I was 2 seconds in this awkward stance when a couple wanted to go down came behind me and I yelled the f word (because I was stressed and embarrassed, and if i plonked my butt it meant there was no space on this narrow trail for them to pass)! 

Then the man very kindly asked me if I needed help and gave me his hand!!! I was so grateful :’) he was my knight in mountain boots, t shirt and bermudas ๐Ÿ™‚ 

All the way down he had to take the more treacherous path while letting me step on the safer rocks. I’m so thankful because he made everything less scary and quicker. Phew… 

He asked if I was from China, probably Half curious and half trying to distract me. When I revealed that I was from sg, he said he understood why I was so scared as Singapore is flat! I joked that we only has one hill and no mountains whatsoever. They were Slovenes and asked if we enjoyed their country and without a doubt the answer is yes!!! 

Europe 2.0 – Day 23 18 June

Today we visited the Skocjan caves. For the second day we woke up before 7am (so hardworking) and then we caught a train to Divaca, which is the closest train station to the caves. The journey there was awesome; Slovenia has endless green and mountainous landscapes. And many little towns were set up at the base of groups of mountains and were marked by a cathedral and their pointy squarish bell tower. Many trees, much sunshine and rocks as well. I really love how cottage-ish the whole country is (meaning everything is very quaint, natural and beautiful). 

We had 1h before the guided tour starts so we went to a panoramic spot only 10 minutes hike away to see a sinkhole, or a cave without a roof, caused by collapse of its rocky ceiling because water has seeped into fragile parts of it. 

The view was majestic to behold but the sun was extremely bright and washed out everything, making it difficult to appreciate tbh. Nonetheless I enjoyed the many pine trees growing around the trail. They were planted in the 1800s.

The tour group was extremely large (around 80-90 people) and had to be split up according to language of the tour. Once entering, it was super cooling and beforehand, we were briefed that it would be 12 degrees inside. Thankfully I didn’t feel super cold without a jacket, but my nose did go kinda numb halfway through the tour. 

The caves were amazing from start to end. Near the entrance, we were already taught about stalagmites and stalactites, something which I didn’t know. The caves have great real life examples of both and we were not allows to touch it as it will stop the growth of these natural structures. This was the silent chamber. 

Then we entered the murmuring chamber, named so because you could hear the river flowing, waterfalls gushing. We all knew that we were reaching the highlight of our tour. 

Alas, we reached the largest chamber of our tour and everything came into sight at once. 

Save for one artificial light that brought the reka river to sight, we could only see the silhouette of the rocky structures framing the centre attraction in layers. 

Looking backwards, small lamps light up the walking trails and illuminated visitors walking in rows, resembling an ant trail inside an underground nest. Besides that, everything is dark and we were all fixated on the star of the show. 

Along the way, our guide showed us the trails which the first explorers took and they were all polished, one foot’s width ledges pouching out from the steep faces of the rock surfaces. Save for some flimsy strings, there was no other protective features for these explorers to safely carry out their jobs. 

Some other off beaten trails were also made by the staff of the park itself for their own fun and research. They were also very dangerous; many steps were steep and small. At some parts there was no ground to walk on so the staff have to make a leap to continue on their journey. These trails led to either the river flowing below or more Chambers above. For visitors, our trail was extremely ‘user friendly’ – the cement had wavy lines to prevent slippages and almost all parts had stable railings. Our group was made of 80% senior citizens and the oldest of them, a lady probably 80 something years old, walked the slowest but with the help of 2 professional hiking sticks, always managed to catch up. What an inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚ 

The guide started talking softer and softer, only feeding information to those walking in front and later (I felt that) there was a competition between our group members and us to be at the front of the pack. YS and I gave up after trying a few times, cutting other people in front of us and then pissing them off in the meantime. 

Near the big collapse, we saw bats and felt a change in temperature, which also signalled the end of our tour. 

YS and I continued to the 2nd part of our journey, which is self guided. Unlike the first half, we could take photos haha. It was was thrilling as the 1st part too, although not as scenic, because we crossed more bridges, many of which we could see what lied below us. 

We initially planned to do another trail but the sun was scorching hot and decided against it. We managed to catch a shuttle bus and later a train back to ljubljana. 

The train back was different as the one that we came by. It is the olden type because it was arranged in cabins of 6 seats. Initially only YS and I shared one cabin to ourselves but a Chinese couple (who was on the same skocjan tour as us by the way, and also the same shuttle bus, and oh also the same train from ljubljana) were looking for empty places so I offered them ours. 

They were really friendly and started convo with us. We revealed that we were medical students when they asked us about our faculty… Then the man said he was our alumni! HAHAHA! YS thought they he meant he’s from the same faculty while I thought he meant he’d from the same uni… Turned out, we were both right! He’s a doctor who pursued his masters in NUS! OMG AHAHAHA big shot sitting next to us the whole time lol! 

Immediately I was super aware that we were in the presence of our senior. But anyway both of them were super nice to us and we talked about many things. They migrated a long time ago to NZ after the guy (Dr Lo) finished his higher studies in SG and clinical work in the UK. He must have been really good to earn himself these wonderful opportunities. I asked him more questions about how he migrated etc. Both of them loved their new lives in NZ. 

I was then curious about their travels and this time they’ll be visiting Europe for 2 months!!! Even longer than us and everything was pre planned with a lot of research. I was so in awe of their spirit and courage. True travellers and adventurers indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚ They are extremely well travelled people and so we obtained more info from them about places they love. It’s the first time I’ve met someone who have been to the artic circle and even seen a real life polar bear in its natural environment (I’ve seen a few in the zoo, so, well…) 

We talked for the whole trip and both YS and I were super excited to hear more from them. They also obtained some info from us about Croatia. Basically there was so much to talk about but the old train was so noisy, making us pause awkwardly or shout sometimes but oh Wells. 

Upon reaching ljubljana, we took a photo to remember one another by. It’s such a fateful encounter and hearty conversation… It will definitely be one of the highlights of our trip. 

Then we only had about 1.5h before we catch a train to bled. Everything was very rushed after we spent too much time in the supermarket finding food for the subsequent days… Oops. We basically had a 30mins dinner, which proved to be too short cuz we had to take away and got a HUGE pizza box to do so, even though we weren’t left with much to finish. We speed walked back to our hostel to get our bags and then out again to the train station. Hahahahha luckily we made it, phew ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Soon we were in Bled and our hostel wasn’t far away, thankfully. We were so exhausted by the time we reached and bathed before heading out to check out our surroundings. We’ll be staying in proper hostel rooms after Bled, because now we have a private twin bedroom to share. Unfortunately I don’t quite like the vibe of this hostel. The bosses, all male, are always sitting outside the house, drinking. They seem to be friendly but tbh I’m kinda intimidated by their presence. Music is always playing downstairs cuz this hostel has an outdoor seating for guests. Everyone seem to be chilling and enjoying themselves but imo I prefer if I could privately walk in and out of the hostel without so much people around… Oh Wells ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Europe 2.0 – Day 22 18 Juneย 

Today is our full day in ljubljana and also our last day here. We woke up bright and early in the morning to go to Tivoli Park for picnicking/breakfast. Unfortunately the park was just like any other normal park (although beautiful – don’t get me wrong, YS and I were probably spoiled by many ang moh parks in London/aussie) so we made our picnic short. It’s Plecnik’s (a famous archictect in Ljubljana) 60 year anniversary so there was a photography exposition on the construction of his bridges/buildings and also takes of his end products. 

Later we headed to the farmer’s Market, just beside the covered market. It’s only a short stretch, about 100m, and there weren’t many as vendors as I’d imagine there to be. I got some raspberries which turn out very juicy, as well as a customised kitchen mat for a friend. Both were quite reasonable (3โ‚ฌ and 5โ‚ฌ) even if I feel a bit bad for spending so much money. Then we went to something like a cocoa cafe, it’s name is ‘cacao’ Hahaha! I had hot chocolate that had almonds and vanilla Gelato inside. It wasn’t as good as I thought (Max Brenner wins easily) but mainly mostly because the ice-cream melted in the drink, making it very foamy, creamy and warm (not hot). 

Finally we made our way to the castle via the pain staking up slope hill. Before meeting our guide at 11am, we went to the viewing tower, which had more steps for us to go up. The view was 360 degrees, unobstructed and we could identify squares and buildings which we visited the previous day. 

The tour is called ‘time machine’ and is supposed to tell us about the history of the ljubljana castle. My first impression of the castle is that its a prominent sight in this small city; no matter where you walk, if you look up, you’d see the viewing tower and the ljubljana flag flying proudly in the sky. It’s like a guardian that watches over the town, every day and night, very amazing indeed. 

We had no expectations for the tour and it turned out way better than expected. At ljubljana Castle, the interior has been converted to exhibition and wedding halls. So the entire tour took place outside the castle rooms. 

We were first introduced to the well, 100m deep and built in roman times. Little did we know that an actor dressed up as a roman soldier, and an actress in a toga were waiting for us there! They performed a little skit about how the Romans came to develop this town. The well, including the man-treaded wheel, is still very well preserved until today. The best prisoners were assigned to manually pull up buckets of water from the deep end of the well. 

Along many other parts of the castle, we met other characters, including St George, a Hasburg royalty, Napoleon, a nun, a prisoner and finally the mayor of ljubljana who bought the castle so that our entrance fees profit this city today. All the actors were very entertaining and sporting. I love their dedication into their work and how they could make impromptu script. For a small amount to enjoy such an interactive experience was very worthwhile for both of us. 

After the tour, the castle still offered many activities like watching a video presentation (also on the history of the castle), going to the chapel to have a calligrapher write something for you in gothic font as souvenir, a national geographic exhibition of minorities living in omo river Ethiopia and a permanent exhibition on Slovenian history. All the exhibitions were very well done and the permanent exhibition especially, had interactive boards that offer information in many languages. They were very comprehensive and had many accompanying artefacts and photos to offer the audience. 

For lunch, we had ‘the best sausage in ljubljana’. I found this place (Klobasarna) by accident on Google when I was bookmarking other restaurants that were recommended by our hostel. It didn’t disappoint and I felt that we had an authentic taste of the Carniolian sausage, which is supposed to be Slovenia’s sausage haha. We also ordered barley porridge and struklji, also Slovenian dishes no less. The meal was affordable and very hearty. 

Afterwards we headed to the St Nicholas cathedral, which is also the ljubljana cathedral, and then the free walking tour which started at 3pm. By then I was super tired because of the late night yesterday and early morning today. The sun was intense and the tour would be 2h long… I highly doubted that I’d have enough energy or patience. 

On the contrary, the tour turned out to be awesome. Although I already knew and saw some of the things which the guide talked about, I still learnt a lot of new information which I wouldn’t have known or searched up if a local didn’t say it. (For example, the statue of Presereen in Presereen square is looking at his love interest, a 16 year old girl, who is represented by a wooden statue built on a building 100m away from the statue.) 

We saw all the bridges, churches (Ljubljana cathedral and also the pink Fransican church) and other buildings of significance like the town hall. The guide was super engaging throughout and we also stayed for the whole program (to my surprise). 

It was 5pm after the tour and we’d still have a lot of time to kill before the sky darkens. We headed back to bathe and rest, then headed to have dinner at one of the restaurants recommended by the hostel. Unfortunately, because we only ordered one goulash to share and nothing else, the staff treated us with double standards. By the time we paid and left, I was extremely frustrated by the lousy attitude. No doubt the food and restaurant were reputable but the staff who treats its customers in an unwarranted way still make the restaurant a zero-star one. 

We left our dinner place quickly so as not to subject ourselves to more humiliation. By then we had about 1h to kill before watching another open performance – this time it would be a play. It turns out that 99.9% of the script was in Slovenian language so we left only after 10mins into the show, and returned to the hostel for a good rest after a long day. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Europe 2.0 – Day 21 17 June

YAY I found a computer at our hostel in Ljubljana!

So today we left Croatia for Slovenia (finally). By right we were supposed to take a 2:45pm bus from plitvice to Zagreb, where we’ll change bus to one bound for ljubljana. But I conveniently forgot that the check out time would be at 10am (I left so much empty time so that we could spend a second morning at plitvice if need be but we managed to see most sites the day before.) 

On the night before we decided to ‘risk it’ and board an earlier bus run by the same company. (Our other option were refund or changing the departure time of the bookings but it was too troublesome and uncertain if it will work.)

By 930am we were out and our host gave us a ride, saving us a lot of effort walking on the main road w our heavy bags. The bus came late by 10mins, at 1025am, and here comes the moment of truth. 

The bus conductor took out his machine to scan the QR code on our slip and thankfully it doesn’t register the time of our actual ride. A receipt printed out from his handheld device and we were on our way to Zagreb. =P

We successfully booked a connecting bus on the spot and headed to ljubljana. The travelling time was especially long because of the queue at the customs (again). 

Nonetheless we manage to reach at least 4h earlier than if we had boarded the original 245pm bus from plitvice. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

For 2 nights we would be staying in an 8 bedded female hostel room. We chatted with a few of our room mates when we arrived, one of whom was in her transition period of life (changing job to pursue a masters in theology) and she had done wwoofing in both Croatia and Italy before coming to Slovenia. 

Not wasting time, YS and I headed to the ljubljana Castle which was a steep climb from the ground floor. Later there we found out about a guided tour happening at 11am and 3pm daily so we decided to come the next day. 

Afterwards we walked around along the river where we spotted a pride parade going on. (I already kinda saw it coming because while walking to the hostel, I spotted 2 girls wearing the rainbow flags behind their backs.) 

And the parade was RAD! Tbh I haven’t seen any other pride parades ever but I’d say this one was pretty awesome. You could tell that everyone participating in it was genuinely an advocate for LGBT rights (and I say so because they were very meticulous with their dressing and make up, although one of the ladies was half naked…) 

The size of the parade was humble, maybe only 100m long at best. Trailing behind it was an on-the-go dance floor that is fitted on a truck and it was playing loudddd music. People around us were dancing and posing for photos – the atmosphere was festive. 

Then walking further ahead we saw a stage set up in a park that’s in front of the University of Ljubljana administration building (its very pretty) and a chamber group was rehearsing. So June happened to be the month public arts and there would be a concern tonight happening for FREE!! I super love free musical/artsy stuff and both YS and I were definitely heading back. 

Later the staff even told us that today (17 June) was the ‘museum by a summer night’ day, meaning that ALL MUSEUMS WOULD BE OPENED FOR FREE UNTIL LATE! Before long I discovered that late = midnight. HOORAY! Our decision to escape from plitvice early turned out to be correct Hahaha! 

It was 8pm by the time we had all these info so the priority was to fill our stomachs before we could enjoy all these artsy line up for us this evening. We picked a burger bar by the river and found nice seats. Bonus: the big sized and intimidating looking waiter was actually very friendly and kind towards us. :’) 

Having some more time to spare before 9pm, we walked down to the dragon Bridge, where we spotted a burger and beer festival happening in front of the covered market. T^T maybe we could have seen this before deciding to settle our dinner elsewhere. 

It was 925pm when we arrived at the open concert and all the seats were filled. There were also people sitting on the floor or standing around; and very one was in the zone. Also an opera singer accompanied some of the songs and everyone was simply EXCELLENT. 

By 945m I decided to leave and check out the museums. First I went to the city museum, which is on my list of attractions to visit. When I arrived i was kinda put off by the crowds. Many people were standing in the lobby, doing nothing productive except chatting with one another. Later I realised that they were waiting for an event to start at 10pm, called ‘a walk with roman ghosts’. I’m guessing they were gonna see ruins of Emona, the old roman city that used to be in Ljubljana. 

Once the crowds cleared I had better insight of the place – its divided between a permanent exhibition (faces of ljubljana) and a temporary one (new age: industrialisation sth sth). I went to see the latter, which highlighted the important presence of factories and union workers in ljubljana. They gave rise to their own set of problems for the city council to worry about, yet is also a good way for the socialist regime to exert their power. All in all I felt that it did more benefit than harm for. Ljubljana as many people from the countryside found jobs in the city and the growing industries allowed foreign investments to pour in. I enjoyed the exhibition very much because it used many interesting and creative ways to deliver many messages across. And most of these mediums are not simply words and pictures – there were art installations and hands on displays for the audience to be engaged. 

Then I walked over to the national gallery but took a wrong right turn without knowing. I knew I needed to turn right along the street but turned too early because I saw a building with the ‘museum by the summer night’ standee outside. 

Turns out that I walked into the Parliament?! My belongings had to go through security check and I didn’t realise where I was until I was 5 minutes in, precisely at the moment where I saw the Parliament Hall where important meetings would be held. HAHAHA! It was interesting because it’s my first time seeing something like this and there were exhibits outside talking about the coming of independence of Slovenia. Lining the top of the walls were paintings of the history of Slovenia, beginning from the time that it was ruled by Romans until today as it is. 

Staying for a only a short while, I headed to my original destination. Many people were still entering although it was 11pm and the night is chilly. The permanent exhibition was about the medieval times of Slovenia and what they manage to construe of its origins as an early civilizations. Artefacts like wooden boats and coins were displayed. 

After which I came to the section on natural history which piqued my interest more. The first time I saw such thing was at the LKC natural history museum in NUS (but tbh I consider my time at London’s one a more authentic experience). 

Aside from the usual, like birds and insects, they had displays of mammoths because it’s remind were found on Slovenian grounds by archaeologists. And with gloves on, I could even touch a real life mammoth tooth (but truthfully I doubted that it is real… Shouldn’t they keep something so precious from the public?) 

The staff at the booth told me that mammoths only had 4 teeth and they change 6 times per year. I mistook the sharper end as the chewing surface but I was wrong; mammoths are herbivores. It’s cousin, mastodons, have smaller sharp teeth. And it’s the first time I heard about mastodons. 


There were many other interactive exhibits for children and adults alike to have fun with. Most of them engage the 6 senses and I realise that this is the standard of Slovenian museums. I really liked how they encourage so much public involvement in the education of history and the arts. Moreover they make it so accessible and attractive through events like that. But then again I’m sure it’s because ljubljana has more substance to display than Singapore and so they have a huge amount of educational resources to play with. 

Last but not the least, the temporary exhibition was on the archaeological artefacts of early musical instruments. I was awed by the passion of archaeologists that specialise in this area – they’re so dedicated! And that night was truly an eye opener. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so in love with vibrant, green and young ljubljana. 

p.s Slovenia is 26 years old this year. 

Europe 2.0 – Day 20 16 Juneย 

Omg… Less than one month to school reopening. Dammit I feel really reluctant to think about med and I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to dive back in. :/ imo I should be a travel blogger instead ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

This morning we caught a bus to Plitvice National Park, probably the most famous attraction in the whole of Croatia? (Dubrovnik is only well known because of GoT… I think.) Whenever we tell people that we’re moving to plitvice after visiting Split and Zadar, everyone has high compliments for this place so I looking forward to see it with my own eyes! 

And it sure didn’t disappoint! We booked accoms in a nearby village called Jezerce and walked for about 20 minutes from Munkinje bus station after alighting the bus. The village is extremely scenic because of the cute little wooden+rock houses with beautiful balconies and potted flowers. It’s the ideal countryside kinda village, like Tuscany! 

We couldn’t check in yet but that didn’t stop us from heading off immediately. From entrance 2, we took the tourist bus from station 2 to station 3, where we planned to trek down and then visit the lower lakes. 

My first and strongest impression of the whole park is how clean and transparent the waters are. THE WHOLE PARK IS LIKE WALKING THROUGH A FISH TANK!!! When you look at the water at either side, you can see the fishes going about their lives (i.e swimming), what’s on the base of the lakes and the roots of trees stretching hear there and everywhere. It is super duper cool! Look farther and the water changes hue from white/transparent to an azure blue. It’s really stunning and my jaw was literally dropping at every turn because the water is just so crystal clear EVERYWHERE. 

There was a road block in the upper lakes, where we started, and we found ourselves back at our starting point after 30 minutes… This was worrying because we were running on limited time since we only bought one day passes and planned to visit the entire park. But no matter, a ranger at the information booth gave us an alternative route and soon we found ourselves at P2, where we took a ferry to P3. 

In our journey there were SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE! And I was kinda frustrated by this because it stresses me out whenever someone behind me is stuck due to my slowness, or I’m stuck behind someone slower. Or simply inconvenience arising from squeezing in narrow trails. But the whole park was very clean, especially the water ๐Ÿ˜‰ 

We had quick lunch after arriving at P3, which is the ferry stop to visit the lower lakes. The lower lakes had more scenic stops and we were excited that we had considerable time left to walk at a leisurely pace. Yue shan had hamburger and sausage roll for me. Tbh many visitors felt that the food was overpriced but I felt that many affordable options were available at prices not much higher than fast food chains in town. Besides, the food was hot and came in generous portions to give us sufficient energy for the rest of the day. 

At around 415pm, we began the second part of our visiting. Unfortunately the sky became dark before we could reach the main attraction, Veliki Slap/big waterfall. A lesser known route nearby will take us to a panoramic view of the lower lakes and I was super excited to howghere because it looked AWESOME on photos. 

Unfortunately on our trek up to the panoramic spot, IT STARTED DRIZZLING. And before we even arrived, the light rain became torrential and gusts of wind made us feel super cold. We quickly took shelter at a nearby house. 

It was 520pm and the park would close at 7pm. We needed to hurry but we couldn’t predict if the rain would grow bigger or subside. At around 535pm, the rain became the smallest ever since it started and we abandoned our plans to wait until 545pm. Quickly we left the shelter and continued on the path that’d take us to the panoramic spot. Luckily, a portion of it was forrested area so we had some cover from the rain. But of course we were drenched before we even reached our destination. 

Finally we arrived 5mins later. Unfortunately, something that I was really stoked to see stood against grey clouds and there was nobody on the trails when we looked down. Perhaps everyone has quickly fled due to the rain. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We took a few photos of our drenched selves with the scenery and left in a hurry so that we had adequate time to retrace our steps, which would now be slippery and dangerous. Upon emerging from the forest, YS spotted a couple inside a car and asked if we could get a lift. Lucky for us, they could drop us at a convenient location to take the ferry back even though they were headed for an opposite direction. And in another 30 minutes we were back at entrance 2, where we entered the park. 

The way back home would be tough as it is Ling and the weather was cold. YS thought I was purposely walking slowly and I thought she was insulting my snail pace (which I sweared was my maximum as it was very chilly). After being angry for roughly 10mins, we decided to snap out of it and tried again, for the 6th time, to hitchhike. 

I didn’t think anyone would stop for us because cars were zooming down the main road. But we manage to get a car on our second try, lucky us! They very kindly dropped us off at the doorstep of our accoms. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hooray! 

It was about 7pm; we quickly washed up and went down for dinner at our accoms. We shared a trout and mixed meat with special bread, which tasted SO GOOD!!!!!! It was a very, very hearty meal and I’m so glad that Croats serve big portions of food everywhere! 

Epic day, imo HAHAHA! Lastly I’d say Plitvice lakes have been magical… (like going to Disneyland) Many people laud it for its many waterfalls but I feel that seeing fishes swim in clear waters around me, like as if I was diving, would be most memorable for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Europe 2.0 – Day 19 15 Juneย 

I’m writing this at 9:30pm, 45 minutes after the sun has set in Zadar, which boasts the ‘world’s most beautiful sunset’. Although Zadar will not be found on the list of top ten for seeing sunset on an unbiased travel website/source, it is nonetheless impressive in its own way. 

Right now the sky has its own ‘rainbow’, i.e. It’s own gradient of colours blended together in perfect harmony. 

Looking up, the sky is a deep shade of navy blue and there’s a few white clouds highlighting the sky. It becomes lighter as it reaches the horizon and finally there’s a small band of white. 

After white, it becomes light orange, sun-orange, baby pink, violet, purple and indigo. Then it meets the sea, which has its own ‘rainbow’ as well. 

As time passes, the indigo part becomes more and deeper, until it consumes the lighter colours of the ‘rainbow’ becomes consumed. Around it, the darker surroundings also consumes the rainbow inwards until the last of its brilliance is gone. 

Today we arrived in Zadar after a morning bus from Split. Beforehand, we did research and found that like all the old towns, Zadar’s is extremely small and filled with Cathedrals and some not-too-significant museums. So the day before, we already discussed over a plan to visit Paklenica national park. Quickly on arrival at our hostel, we headed to the bus terminal again to catch a 12nn bus. Along the way I already saw the great mountains that made up the park, and was afraid that the trails would be difficult. 

And I was right. HAHAHAHA! Although they are man made, the trails are extremely bumpy because they were made out of rocks and the cement didn’t fill all of the gaps completely, making plenty of easy traps to cause a bad fall or a sprain. 

Before that: we were fortunate to find someone who could give us a lift from the bus station to the park entrance, saving us 20 minutes of gruelling upslope hike under the scorching sun. Once there, we decided to follow the main road and used our limited time as a gauge for when we would stop and make our descent. 

So back to our hike: we walked carefully, choosing carefully to step on the flat rocks so as not to slip. I was moving at an extremely slow pace, perhaps even slower than 5km/h… Around me, many people were not having a particularly difficult challenge. Dogs, children and the elderly alike were having it smooth. Thrill seekers were even doing rock climbing on the steepest faces of the mountain. 

We were hiking for around 1h until we reached a long flat trail in an forested area, where we asked a man coming in the opposite direction if there’s anything to see. Unfortunately he was jaded and disappointed by the lack of waterfalls, prompting us to head back for the entrance. 

If the hike up was tough, going back was even more so because there’s higher chances of slipping. I managed to pick up a long wooden branch otw down and it have me some confidence to walk quicker. 

After exiting the entrance at around 330pm, we still had no luck finding kind souls who could give us a ride (because people either came in the morning and left by lunchtime or came after lunch time and left by evening). But luckily as we walked further ahead, YS spotted a couple who was getting ready to go into their cats and set off. We caught them in time and saved ourselves another 20 minutes of effort. Thank goodness! 

By the time we were down, it was 340pm and our bus was 30 minutes away. I was dying for a Coke so we sat down for a while at a cafe. Then the most interesting thing happened while we were waiting for our return bus – the guy from Saudi Arabia was catching the same bus as us! He was with a blonde US girl this time. She’s 27 years old and both of them met at the hostel. It turns out that she wanted to go Paklenica and the guy heard her asking around for company, so they went ahead the next morning. V spontaneous! They hiked to the peak and back, and spent the previous night at an open hut. I really admire their fitness and sense of adventure because I could imagine that it is v tough to navigate the trails and also trek through the rocky terrain. 

After we arrived back at Zadar bus terminal, we parted for good – the guy was heading southwards to Split and Dubrovnik, while the girl would be travelling to Slovenia, where she’d meet her friend. We took a photo and said our goodbye. 

On the way back, YS and I visited the supermarket for rosti, and the supermarket baked chicken (plus ready to go salad) became dinner for us. It’s v cheap and convenient considering that we had to catch the famous sunset at Zadar. 

At around 8 we arrived at the coast and the view is so perfect. 

Now I understand why famous people have given high compliments about its sunset. According to Zadar’s tourism website:

It may be that the loveliest inscription of Zadarยดs exceptional sunset was written by the famous Alfred Hitchcock. On the occasion of his visit to Zadar, in May 1964, while observing the luxurious game played by the sun the Maestro said: ยปZadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, in Florida, applauded at every evening.ยซ

The view of the setting sun was unobstructed. Left to it was the silhouettes of mountains and little towns in the distant. At dusk, they looked purplish blue. To the right was the coastline or river front of Zadar, made up of a neat row of street lamps. The view in the middle was dedicated to the setting sun. There were occasional boats passing by and seagulls flying in the sky. Save for those, we had a pretty good view of the sun dipping into the sea. 
First the sun was orange, casting an glittery orange streak on the sea. As it went lower, it became red and its borders were more distinct. Subsequently the clouds around it were also set into orange flames and the sky was lighted in pink hues. Perfect ๐Ÿ™‚ 

p.s please see the picture which speaks a thousand words hahaha

Europe 2.0 – Day 18 14 June

Today we caught a 9:30am ferry (Bura Line) from Split to Trogir – I suggested this because I wanted to try something besides bus so that we can fully appreciate being in the midst of the great blue sea. The ferry left shortly after we arrived and there was a queue to board so we barely managed to get a seat on the deck, which has tables. (I was eating fruits and drinking my half full/empty bottle of coke while enjoying the scenery.) I love how the winds create waves, which give rise to beautiful patterns in the sea. The day was sunny was usual but today there were more clouds so as the boat moved ahead, there were moments of shades and then very glaring brightness.

An hour later we arrived. Trogir was much, much smaller than I expected. (Should have done proper research beforehand besides the only knowledge that ‘it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site’, to which Ben informed me that Dubrovnik and Split are also under the UNESCO, and so are many places around the world lol). Nonetheless, the old town in Trogir didn’t disappoint – it is the best for me so far. I feel the Dubrovnik’s is too centred around its Stradun and crowded with people, whereas Split’s is not well preserved and more famous for its beautiful promenade. Trogir has a less touristy, more authentic old town and also a fantastic riverfront.

Walking through Trogir feels like walking around Venice but minus the canals and characteristic architecture. The similarity lies in the small alleys and relative peacefulness. Most structures are built out of large, white stones(?)/bricks and the ground as well (except they’re well polished after being walked on for many years). The main centre is based on a square consisting of the St Lawrence Cathedral and the town Loggia+clock tower. Besides this and the riverfront, which has many restaurants, other parts are pretty quaint and are dotted by a few souvenir shops maybe every few 100m.

We first visited the cathedral, which boasts a famous portal that is made by a famous Italian sculptor when Trogir was under the Republic of Venice. The bell tower was super scary to climb up;ย  unlike the one in Split, which was scary because its windows are huge and one mistake might just send you toppling to the ground floor, Trogir’s has very steep steps nearing its top. And the gaps are so huge that I was worried about toppling through them.

Later we had lunch by the river front – we shared a marinated chicken set that comes with soup and dessert, as well as a green risotto. Like all meals that we had in Croatia, they were super tasty and we were filled afterwards.

With energy to spare, we walked to the Kamerlengo Castle but it was not well preserved/super impressive and required an entrance fee so we gave it a miss. I suggested that we go to Okrug beach (more for me because I was ready to swim) but it would be 5km by foot or 4sgd by boat for one way – too inconvenient/expensive.

So we had a leisurely stroll around Trogir, where I discovered its pristine, rustic charm. I bought lavender gifts for the 3rd consecutive day haha and we headed back to Split by bus (instead of ferry). The return trip was about 3sgd cheaper and 10min faster. We were asleep for most of the journey.

As it was a public bus, it parked at an unfamiliar terminal so we walked back to the hostel and I came out again to visit Bacvice Beach (AGAIN) because I’m just so sentimental and caught up about the value of ‘last time’ (for most people, they’d treasure their firsts more, I guess). I found a shorter route to get there this time (heh) but unfortunately I was kinda self-conscious about my one-piece to fully enjoy myself. There were more people (many local teenagers playing ball) plus the waves were more choppy, so I didn’t stay for long. We bathed and went out for dinner nearby, which we both felt was a hidden gem because it doesn’t have any outdoors seats and is barely noticeable save for a menu outside the shop. Plus the prices were so reasonable and the variety was great – they had pasta, pizza, risotto, meat, fish, soup…everything. It wasn’t crowded and we even ordered beer to share while making plans for tomorrow. YAY ๐Ÿ˜€