Saturday in Zagreb

We were excited to get going this morning after a lovely dinner at Purger a good local restaurant. Purger is a slang word to describe someone born and bred in Zagreb.

It rated well on trip advisor and wasn’t far from out hotel, Zagreb Palace, or from the park where the little stalls were getting lively with drinkers and dancers. Purger is a little dated in decor. More 1980’s than now! But the food was great. Good local food. Veal seems to be very popular here and Steve had sauted veal with garlic! I loved my dish of cabbage leaves stuffed with lamb and pork minced meat swimming in a lovely paprika sauce. Served over mash it was  real comfort food and so different from the fish dishes I enjoyed on the island.

After a very good breakfast we hit the streets went to the local fruit & veg markets with the gorgeous red umbrellas. 

Bought a new cap and decided on a city bus tour to get to the rather spread-out areas of the city. It was disappointing! The driver drove too quickly and the commentary by a local women was so heavily accented and so fast we could hardly understand it.

There are many lovely buildings. Not as old as they appear because of the earthquake in the 1880’s but  they are grand. Then there are the communist style – plain austere and uninviting. Then there is the street art. I think when countries embrace street art or graffiti as we call it the result can be fantastic.

We got back about 40 mins earlier than stated ‘on the brochure’,  so decided walking was the way to explore the old town and joined in on a few walking tour groups to get some information.

The Stone Gate, built in Middle Ages, houses a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. We passed houses with spiked domes on top. These were to stop the witches from landing on the roofs!  There were stories of witches being hunted by the locals. Those poor women – the ones with a mole ( a sign that they were a witch) – were automatically killed!

Couldn’t resist a visit to Kravata – a tie shop famous for its tie made using the colours and design famous in Croatia.  The necktie was invented here in Croatia! The Croatian women used to make triangular scarves ( or kravats) for their men to wear when leaving for a war. They tied them around their neck for good fortune and so they would return. The Croatians served as mercenaries for the French – hence the “cravat” and the fashion item!

Then I couldn’t resist the Museum of Broken Relationships. It was recommended by my swimming wing woman,  Betty. At first I though it was about relationships lost through war. But no,  it’s regular people talking about a love they lost. Each story was accompanied by an item that meant something to them. Oh there were some sad stories.

One of the exhibits from the Museum of Broken Relationships. This girl had met ‘her love’ and he left her.

In the cafe of the museum this is the wifi information!

We recovered from the Museum by walking past the funicular into the Strossmayerova park  with its beautiful views back over the city. It was here we sat on the park benches with whimsical things hanging from the trees – witches, hoops and  flowers and had some lunch. Again a sausage and beer for Steve! 

We continued walking along the path, stopped to look at the view from over the stone fence and spied The Art Park tumbling down the hill. Such a great use of space. Straw animals and lots of street art.

Then a spot of shopping for me while Steve went to the Model Train exhibition!

We continued walking until a storm hit which sent us all into bars and restaurants. There are so many outdoor cafes with padded seat pads that the waiters were kept running bringing all the pads inside. By the time we got a drink the sun was back out!

Craft beers are a big deal here in Zagreb, as they are in many parts of the world. Steve was getting excited about trying another one so we found The Craft House and he sampled two different India Pale Ales. Of course while we were there right near a church we saw a wedding!

Now it’s rest time before dinner at Bistro Fotic a recommended restaurant not far from our hotel. PS. Just back and it was great. Yum cutlets for me with minted peas and feta. Pepper steak for Steve.

Zagreb is proving to be a great place for a few days – summer being the best time to visit.

Watch out for my 10 best things yo see and do in Zagreb.

Pushed to the limit on the last day of swim trek

img_1566The last day is always sad. We’re all getting to know each other. It doesn’t matter that this was a slightly shorter trek or that we knew most of the swimmers before.

We hopped in the water and off we went. After a few days swimming you know who you swim best with. Someone with a similar pace. My wing man is Olivier. He’s from Paris.

My wing woman in Galapagos was lovely Betty from the USA and in Montenegro it was fun Sophie from England, now living Tarifa in Spain  I’ve loved swimming with all these great people

Today Steve  decided to stay with us. I like this because he becomes the sighter and I can relax and swim! He guides us in the direction we need to go which is pretty important on the crossings from island to island.


We started with  one of these crossings. Then  we hit a tough patch of choppy water and a strong current running against us. Ricky gathered us on the boat and moved us onto the end of the island and we started another crossing.

Relaxing on the boat before the final swim.

One of the crossings from island to island. Steve in yellow cap out front.

From here on it was smooth swimming and we stopped every half hour for some food – this really helps with distance swimming.

Finally we finished. 8 km! Yes, me – my personal best distance  oh boy …

Congratulations from Steve. 8km!

We stopped at a lovely bay at the top of Ugljan island and had our last lunch together at Konoba Dali.

It was a pretty restaurant with terrific views and even better food. We had a Peka. This is a traditional dish of the island . Some had meat and the other octopus.

The 🐙 had just been caught that morning , boiled, tenderised and then cooked in a clay pot over hot coals. It was the most wonderfully tender octopus I have ever had.


They served it with potatoes and zucchini and lashings of olive oil.

Fantastic with a local wine – Rose.

It will be sad to leave our friends at swim trek. It was all made possible by Chris Masek, our friend from our first trek in Sardinia in 2013 when I could only swim about 1 km. He also organised the big swims Steve got to do. One the crossing from Corsica to Sardinia and the other from Spain to Morocco.

Chris, sadly didn’t get here at all for the trek. Business interfered at the last moment and he couldn’t get away.

In the evening we had the end of swim trek dinner. Photo opportunities of new friends.

Guide Neil, myself, Yves- former guide now friend, Steve and Ricky our guide here and from Greece 2 years ago.

Ricky, Dan Garr from LA, Neil, myself and swim buddy Olivier, and Dan’s two sons Luke and Max and wife Isabelle

Julien with the ‘jeans style’ swim togs given by Steve. Quite a novelty.

Clowning around with Yves. Neil sitting.

As usual , Awards were given. I got mine for being a ‘record breaker!’ Setting new distances each day.

It was a great few days of swimming. Usually swim treks are 5-6 days of swimming but this one was longer distances over 4 days. Exhausting!

Tomorrow we move on to Zagreb.

We take a ferry at 9.15 back to Zadar then a comfortable bus to Zagreb.




Day 3 Swim Trek 

Once again breakfast with the  boys and we were off and away.

Today Dan our American friend, inventor , funny man , foodie and all round good guy brought his wife Izzey and two sons Max and Luke along on the boat. They aren’t really swimmers but were prepared to give it a go. So off we went for a crossing and a lovely swim along some more beautiful coastline.

It’s a magic day – but before we go we get the vasoline treatment!

The beautiful waters of Croatia.

The two boys did a bit of the swims and then jumped back on while Izzey  became the photographer for the day.

Lunch by Ricky & Neil

Perfect summer bar

Informal waterpolo. Training the stars of the future.

We had another great lunch provided by our guides Ricky and Neil. They provided a variety of salads and assorted fruits. Very spoiled.

The last swim today was along the coast ending in a little bay with a great bar along the waters edge overlooking a waterpolo area netted off for the local kids to practice their skills.

No wonder Croatia do well at waterpolo. The kids playing informally were very skilled and fun to watch.

We made our way back to the boat to return to the hotel to do a quick change before we headed our for dinner at Konoba Roko for dinner.

Day 2 Swim trek

Once swim trek starts there isn’t much more to report than what goes on during the trip day.

It’s all about the trip to the boat, the journey to the start of the day’s swim. The examining of the map, the applying of the vasoline to stop chaffing (believe me you don’t want chaffing from all this salty water! It’s very painful)

Then it’s off and away.

Our group is small but we’re getting along just fine. Four French men and Dann our American, Yves our ex guide and friend, and Steve and I. Lucky me , only girl.

Today we motored down the back of the island we are on and moored in a little bay which sparkled in the morning light. The water is the  most exquisite blue.

We set off to cross the channel. It can be busy so we had to stay together.

It was 3.5 km across and fortunately the conditions were perfect. We had a few little stops – for boats or water and then at the end a snack of banana. Then we swam around a little island entered the channel and swam along the coast for another km or so. We took a break in a little bay with a village along the shoreline. People must wonder about us as we swim up past their boats or into the village where they have umbrellas scattered along the shoreline.

We pushed on and finally finished after 6.4 km. All in one swim which for me is the longest distance I’ve done in one swim.

We were given our swim trek t-shirt. And everyone sat around chatting about the swims and the shirts!

This afternoon we may swim on to make it 8 km.

At the end of a great day the guides Neil and Ricky sit with all the gear in the back of our van! The ever smiling guides.

Farewell Slovenia. Hello Croatia. 

We had a wonderful last night in Bled. After the storm we made it to the little church island. It was quiet and beautiful. The church of the Assumption is mostly white with a restrained interior and a bell you are invited to ring and make a wish. I had wondered about the number of bells I’d been hearing!

Inside of the bell tower. Wonderful wooden staircase.

Had a great last dinner at  villa on the edge of Bled town. Phillip the waiter was very helpful and friendly which was in contrast to the trip advisor comments on the restaurant.

As we walked back along the lake we decided we’d had the perfect amount of time in Bled. For all it’s beauty unless you want to hang out at the lake swimming or do bush walking then two days is probably enough. We were ready for Croatia.

So bright and early we made our way to the little bus station. Thank goodness Villa Pavlovski was only a 3 min walk!

We got the bus back to Ljubljana and changed to one for Croatia. It was to take 5 hrs all up. The scenery was good and we knew we’d arrived in Croatia because things were not quite as green and there were rocky outcrops everywhere. Very rugged landscape here. Which contrasts amazingly well with the Blue of the sea.

Just north of Zadar. Contrasting rugged landscape and the sea.

We arrived in Zadar at 1.30 ready for lunch with Tracey a friend from Melbourne. We met last year in Montenegro and it turns out she’d just finished two treks. First in Sardinia then in Croatia. She is great fun and has made great progress with her swimming. She went in a fun swim today in Zadar with 4 of the swim trek guides – 5 km -and won her age group and “First Australian over the line”! She’s amazing.

By 4.30 we were riding the ferry to Ugljan and the township of Preko. We were met by one if the hotel staff and whisked along to a modern looking complex of little 2 bedroom apartments. The hotel overlooks the very pretty, very busy  bay. Only problem- none of the apartments have a view of the sea. The good thing is we are away from the party night noise.

Preko is a summer holiday haven. All around Ugljan there are bays and beaches and we’ll be swimming them with guides Ricky and Neil.

Land of summer fun. Preko Bay.

We had a swim and the water is gorgeous. And salty! After  fresh water Lake Bled it was a bit much for the eyes with no goggles.

Then I walked and people watched. Summer anywhere brings the crowds. The families, friends, dog lovers, eaters, teenagers in packs. All getting along. Playing and splashing (not much swimming!) and eating gelato. All shapes and sizes with almost all the women in two pieces. Including me! And I didn’t feel anyone even noticed me. In Australia I definitely wouldn’t wear one, but here, why not! If I’d had my bright training swimmers from Funkita on they may have noticed me.

Restaurants and boats. Just the right mix.

There is a walkway that follows the waterline along – in and around the beaches and bays. You get to a section where there are restaurants lined up together. Not with the cream umbrellas of Ljubljana but with either smart furniture or plastic. Doesn’t make much difference.

We returned for a walk heading for dinner around 9pm and there were still groups splashing and playing. The children seem so carefree. The moon was coming out and the colours of the sky so soft and beautiful.

I know we’ll have a good week here. We’re looking forward to our friends arriving tomorrow.

This  trek will take us to the quiet isolated parts of this island and to explore other islands in this area. Lucky us.