We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When I lived on the East Coast, I was in the Caribbean several times a year. With others, we would usually charter a small "yacht", the cost divided equating with a big-boat cruise but we'd be able to get into small inlets of clear waters and into smaller ports than the big cruise lines. It was heaven, a heaven I'd so missed since living on the West Coast where air travel times to the islands would be an exhausting day each way of multiple stops and raising small sons who wanted to escape to the big boat kids clubs.
My prayer was answered in July, along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia with the easier to get to, less crowded, pristine waters, on a reconditioned yacht of 18 cabins. And, the cost was a fraction of what the big cruise boats are charging.
Plus the food aboard was terrific, only topped by reasonable cost gourmet meals and extraordinary treats ashore at the ports we stopped in at. Seafood based meals are the best and fresh. Later at Zagreb and Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Budapest, the gourmet meals and excellent beers continued. (Tip: Avoid tourist restaurants with photos in front, or offering hamburgers or pizza. Though it may be good, do some research and walk off main strips for outstanding gourmet local cuisines.)
A special mention about the next photo. If you are a devout fan of poppy seed (mundt) cakes as I am, a very occasional, very special treat due to their high price, look at this hero sized mundt cake (Zagreb) for just $4!
The small islands each had their special attractions. And, Split (with Diocletians Palace) and Dubrovnik (with its walled city, sometimes a filmshoot site for Game Of Thrones) were special. All in all, quite a wonderful time.
Then, we went on to a lesser well known jewel, Zagreb. Consider it a smaller Budapest, plus acres upon acres of parks, full of entertainments. At this cathedral under reconstruction, in front on display is a portion of how by the Communists allowed the cathedral to deteriorate to crumbling stone, so those younger would not forget.
Then on to Ljubjlana, another Balkan jewel of a city, and Slovenia's gorgeous Lake Bled.
Then, on to Budapest. I'd last been there 15-years ago, when despite its great "bones" and seemingly endless streets of classic beautiful buildings, it was still a "grey" city, smooted and recovering from decades of Communist neglect. Now, its buildings shine, its streets are attractive, the food scene is salivatingly good. The Castle district on the Buda side is well worth the half day visit. (I'll discuss the Jewish quarter in another post.)
Back to food. This famous old bakery on Castle hill offers so many incredibly delicious cakes that we had doubles. Also, fortunately, this tavern is still there at the base of Castle Hill. I'd fallen in love with it fifteen years ago. On offer are a wide variety of over fifty fresh Belgian beers that aren't obtainable on this side of the Atlantic. Its food menu is, of course, a match.
Freedom Square honors Ronald Reagan.
Just walking miles from the tourist center, this was the type of attractive pocket parks and houses we found.
When I last left Romania, and then Hungary, I swore I was not going any place they don't speak English again. (Most Northern Europeans speak some English.) I do miss Budapest, and love Castle Hill most of all. Our hotel was right next to Matyas-templom. It was wonderful to arise early and watch the sun rise over the city, looking down on the bridges and the Danube.
As you are writing in the past tense I fear my suggestion that you visit Szoborpark, where they crammed together all the old communist statues, will come too late.
Assistant Village Idiot
Dear Mr. Kessler:
Just yesterday I was wondering where you were--we have not heard from you for a long time and I was starting to worry. Now I see what you have been up to--good on you!! It looks like a marvelous trip. Please tell us the name of the tour company or post a link. Have you moved to the eastern side of the US again, or are you still in SAN?
Katalina Lines, and booked land myself.
Chose to skip communist statues, in favor of the revived Budapest. Still has a large central memorial near center to the Soviet troops who cleared out the Nazis and fascists.
Still live in and love being in paradise Encinitas.
As a Canadian Army officer, I've done a couple of very long military tours in the "Former Yugoslavia". And I've been back on holidays since then.
Notwithstanding the bad old days in the early Nineties, I love the Balkans. Ljubljana is a jewel and a walk around Lake Bled in the late summer is marvelous, particularly once you reward yourself with a pivo afterwards.
I used to go to Mass quite regularly at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Zagreb, usually followed by lunch at the Kaptolska Klet opposite.