Fortified cities

Author: Jarik

Our time in Croatia and Montenegro included a few days in three medieval cities. These were fortified as key ports during the rule of the Venetian Maritime Empire that came into power in the Adriatic nearly a thousand years ago. Dubrovnik was impressive in its scale and, with its beautiful white limestone buildings and shiny paved streets that rise up from the blue-green ocean, one can understand why it is a popular tourist destination. Too popular for my liking. Way too many of our photos captured other people taking photos! The whole city revolved around the tourists and every square inch was either a museum, restaurant, souvenir shop or accommodation of some sorts.  Korčula city was a very tiny version of Dubrovnik.

But hidden away, deep in the furthest corner of the Bay of Kotor and under the shadow of towering mountains, we found the real thing! Kotor city is authentic. The clothes of whole families adorn the washing lines strung between the balconies in the narrow alleys. Doors open up to kitchen tables and there are hardware stores between the bakeries and street cafes.


Although we were there in “high season” there were refreshingly few tourists and the few that were there were either domestic vacationers or Russian. We wandered the streets, walked on the city walls (from where some local boys were fishing), had a beautiful dinner on one of the city squares and enjoyed the festive sounds of street musicians. I took a few moments to reflect on the lives of thousands of people that stood where I was now standing, in a tiny church frequented by residents and travellers for over a thousand years. I was struck how the walls that were built around these people defined who they were, where they went and how they lived. It provided protection but also separated and isolated. Some things never change.


– Jarik –


The Beautiful Walled City…

Author: Kali

We arrived in Dubrovnik in the middle of the day, in the full sun and terrible heat from Korčula Town, by ferry. Our friendly host, Daniela, came to pick us up at the terminal. Before us, we saw a large town built around the old town and harbour, where big cruise liners moor in the dazzling blue water. We were eager to explore.

Daniela led us up several long, stone flights of stairs and narrow alleyways to get to our apartment. Cats laze around under the odd tree or bramble and vehicles park wherever they can. What a different life to what we are used to.

Only now do I understand why cars and other vehicles do not have side mirrors, or have big dents and smashed windows. The narrow little laneways are barely big enough to squeeze a motor cycle through, yet with other vehicles parked along the sides clogging the road, somehow the cars manage to get through the haze. I see the logic in all the many smart cars zooming around the city. They are super easy to park and fit through the tiniest places. This comes in handy in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik is made up of many old homes and buildings, all rock or concrete wit red roof tiles. Colourful wooden doors on some of these make a beautiful contrast.

Near the back entrance of our little apartment, there’s a concrete wall. Earlier that day when we headed to the beach, I found a ping pong ball floating in the harbour. I am desperate to play hockey or tennis. Traveling the world (backpacking especially) you must be resourceful.  So with a small wooden cutting board from the kitchen and the ping pong ball against the uneven wall, I got my tennis fix.

One evening we went to the old town to have a nice dinner, a look around and most importantly an ice cream. The old town itself is absolutely stunning! Festive little tables and chairs sit out in the alleyways. Each restaurant, café or pub has candles or lamps to light their part of the narrow path. The old churches are the only quiet and still places you can find within the city walls. These consist of amazing architectural designs, and are adorned with colourful paintings. Bands of traditional singers and musicians move through the city. Their music can be heard from outside the large stone walls.

What, however, spoilt all this magic for m,e was the masses of tourists. On top of the little alleyways being so small and narrow, it was extremely hard to move around. Everyone was everywhere, on top of everything, all wanting to get the same photos, wanting to do the same things. It drove me nuts! Every time one of those massive cruise liners would appear in the harbour, hordes of tourists would all head to the old town city gates and swarm the place.

We decided to eat dessert first. So as soon as we entered the gates to the old town, our first (and only) mission in life was to hunt for ice cream. I say hunt because firstly (and most importantly) we wanted to scout out the best ice cream in all of the old town and then secondly (this one mattered mostly to Dad and not the the rest of us) at a reasonable price. At last after our crazy search, we each had a large chocolate ice cream in our hands whilst exploring the old town.

We now started to notice how seats at the restaurants were filling up fast. At some places people were even standing in line, desperate to sit down and have a meal. We started casually looking for a nice place to eat. Of course, our tight budget had us walk past many places more in my class. 😉

At last, the perfect place came. In the budget, good food, and in a particularly beautiful little alleyway… and most importantly: a table for six! 😃 This doesn’t sound like such an amazing thing, but if you had only known how all six of us have been squished into places so unimaginably small, you would be rejoicing too. After South America, everything feels like luxury! 😂

One of the things I will never forget is when Dad suddenly emerged with a brown paper bag and a big grin. ‘I have something for you all!’ he announced excitedly. He took six candy tennis balls from the bag. They were massive gum balls! Dad specifically got the tennis balls because every spare moment we would be quickly checking the Wimbledon results. We are big tennis fans. Well, some more that others. And all the way home that night, Mum and Dad taught us four children how to blow bubble gum bubbles, something you would never expect your parents to teach you. It was loads of fun and a night I will never forget.

Tomorrow we will bus off to Kotor in Montenegro. Our time in beautiful Croatia has been way too short so far. Luckily we will return soon to this magical place. 😁❤️

Until next time,




Dubrovnik, Croatia

Author: Mariza

16 July 2017

Stunningly beautiful, but way overpriced and far too many tourists.

Our very kind hostess welcomed us at the ferry terminal and walked us up the steep hill to our apartment. Daniela and her family have gone the extra ten miles in their hosting efforts, leaving all sorts of treats for us.

A typical socialist era apartment building has been in the family for generations. The family now mainly rent it out to tourists over the summer months. The main source of income around here. The famSAMSUNG CSCily live in a small village outside Dubrovnik from where they operate their laundry business. Renting business space in the city is simply too expensive. They drive in every day to pick up and deliver laundry. Mostly from hotels, restaurants and tourist apartments. The mother is a civil engineer who cannot find a job in that field. It is tourism or nothing, she tells us.

After exploring the old city, we end up on a beach with rye bread and a bottle of red wine. A great spot for enjoying the sunset and avoiding the crowds. We watch the boats sail into the harbour. And we reflect on how very blessed we are.


We don’t do any tours or touristy things that cost money in this expensive city. We do wander through the beautiful limestone streets of the old city with thousands of tourists, though. And we enjoy the magic of rows and rows of little tables lining the narrow alleys. This is especially wonderful at night. We also walk around the harbour cove and swim in the cool, blue water. The beaches are nothing special considering where we’ve recently been. We have been spoilt!

As our bus snakes out of Dubrovnik we have a last glance over the old city. It’s impressive walls making a stunning contrast with the deep blue ocean around it.

Our next stop is Kotor, Montenegro.

– Mariza –


Captain Croatia!

Author: Ruzow

Dad woke me up at 4:30am. I quickly got dressed and had breakfast. Everybody else was still asleep as we went outside. Dad and I were going fishing with Daniel, the owner of the place we were staying at.

Less than ten minutes later, we were on the boat and getting ready to leave. When we were about 50 metre away from the mooring, I looked back and my gaze was met by a beautiful sunrise. It was magnificent. I watched the clear blue water for a few more minutes, when Daniel suddenly announced that I was to steer the vessel. He showed me how all the levers work and before I knew it, I had become Captain Croatia.

Captain Croatia

Over the next two hours, we pulled in 4 nets, each of them 200 metes long. In total, we caught 16 fish, but Daniel only kept twelve of them because the other 4 were poisonous. The biggest was to be sold to cover the fuel costs and the rest for Daniel and his family to eat.

All too soon it was time to head back. I sped us through the water to the mooring, carefully veering around a man on a kayak. Daniel then took over and tied the boat to the mooring.

The voyage was now over.

Written and Signed By

⚓️ Captain Croatia – Ruzow ⚓️




Kayaking in Prižba

Author: Kali

Wanting to make the most of the amazing ocean water and sun here in the little town of Prižba, we rented three kayaks to explore the Adriatic Ocean and surrounding islands. Mum and I; Eulain and Ruzow; Dad and Esto.

On advice of one of the locals, mum and I ended up choosing the best kayak for the choppy water.

As I slid it into the crystal clear water, we arranged that I was to sit in the front and mum to direct from the back. From the start our team worked together perfectly.

Normal… Okay, one left then two rights.’ Mum would command from the back seat and immediately we would change over to steer ourselves around the many little islands and coves. We had the same rhythm so mum and I were able to glide swiftly through the azure waters. We were way ahead of the others (I think the kayak might’ve been to our advantage) and had the time to stop and swim in the middle of nowhere. We anchored our kayak on a lonely beach, and drifted with the breeze. This was a special connecting time between mum and I on a kayak, in the middle of the Adriatic Sea.

Our aim was to row to a costal town called Brna to have ice cream. We were about a kilometre from it, when we realised that we would not have enough time to stop for ice cream and be back in time  to return the kayaks.

Our time in Prizba consisted mostly of swimming in the glorious water and admiring the view from our balcony. We managed quite a bit of school work too.

We made up for our loss, having ice cream on the balcony of our lovely apartment, overlooking the ocean. How blessed we are to experience the world, together as a family. I look forward to more adventure together! 😁

Until next time,

– Kali-





Kayaking on the Adreatic Ocean

Author: Esto

Our family of six decided to hire kayaks. We walked down to the beach and hired three kayaks. We went out on the ocean. Dad and I shared a kayak, Eulain and Ruzow and Mum and Kali. One of the staff told Mum and Kali to take the thin kayak. That was the best one and it went very fast. Dad and I made a good team. Not quite as good as Mum and Kali, but better than Eulain and Ruzow.

We kayaked for two hours. I really enjoyed it. We stopped a few times to have a swim. The water was refreshing and very, very blue. It was the hottest time of the day.

When we came back, I was tired. We walked home and had lunch. It was very nice. I washed all the dishes. Kali, Eulain and I walked to the kiosk to buy ice cream for all six of us. We ran back, because we did not want the ice cream to melt. Back home we sat on the porch and ate our ice cream. After that we went for a swim. It was lots of fun. We all played with a ball in the ocean.


– Esto –





Prižba, Korčula

Author: Mariza

12 July

An ink blue ocean, dotted with little islands – that is the view from our apartment in Prižba on the island of Korčula, Croatia. Sitting on the porch drinking in this view became the main activity for four days. Combine this with 30kn (6 Aussie dollar) locally produced red wine and you’ve got it made.

I have to confess something here. After our incredible experience in the tiny village of Račišće, we were disappointed at first. Shameful, I know. Here we are in paradise and finding our hearts left behind in an old stone village.

We did, however, find a space in our full hearts for this richer, more modern haven rather quickly. It is truly beautiful and the ocean spectacular. We swam, played pine cone cricket and kayaked around the little Adriatic islands. And we once again met beautiful people.


Our hosts, Daniel and Katiča are the nicest, warmest people. The kind you instantly want to be friends with. We had lovely conversations and Daniel took Jarik and Ruzow out fishing on his boat. A huge highlight for my beautiful boy! He was chatterboxing on a total high for over an hour upon returning. So wonderful to see. My personal highlight was having coffee on the stairs overlooking the ocean followed by a final sunset swim and chat with Katiča. I can’t believe we’re leaving early tomorrow morning.

Our last Prižba dinner was a feast consisting of fish we bought from a local fisherman after our morning run. Jarik and the kids did a fabulous job and had loads of fun cleaning and preparing it.


As I watch the little islands disappear as darkness drives out the pinkish blue sky, my heart is grateful. The first bright stars are already appearing. Soon the moon will hang over the ocean too. I am so very blessed.

– Mariza –



Beautiful Račišće

Author: Kali

After our bundu-bashing, we were all exhausted and just wanted to throw our bags down and go for a swim. A friendly couple, Martin and Danke, warmly welcomed us with sweet pastries, traditional homemade wine, grappa and a special homemade juice to our accommodation. Having entered Račišće in such a horrible way, I was so thankful the town and our apartment was so wonderful and beautiful.


Finally arriving after over 4 hours of struggles…


Our apartment was on the top level of an old 17th century stone block building. It was literally 10m from the ocean. Račišće is one of the smallest and oldest villages on the island of Korčula, and only has around 30 homes, 2 restaurants/cafés and a lovely old church. It is surrounded by a beautiful little cove and small harbour with clear, calm ocean water. From our balcony, you could even see the rocky harbour bottom.

All the beaches and shores are filled with smooth, round pebbles and rocks. No sand to get into everything. It was heaven on earth! (Hey Kate, you would love these beaches.) The sea water was very salty, but absolutely gorgeous! There is no sand in the water, so it is crystal clear and a delight to swim in. It is so refreshing and inviting, you can’t stop yourself from plunging in.

We spent our time swimming and floating around the three small beaches, or jumping off the harbour wall. Jumping off the harbour wall was so much fun. It is about 3m high and drops down sharply into the clear, cool, blue water, and we would do all kinds of tricks whilst jumping off. The local children would appear every afternoon to swim and jump off the wall, showing the few tourists how its done. It was very funny to watch them.

Every hour the big old church bell would chime. Chiming for the day would start with a full minute of constant and loud ringing (at 6am!), and would end the day the same (10pm). A few times I couldn’t help but chuckle, imagining someone swinging on the bell cord. 😁

There is a small boule court where the old men go to play boule (bocce, pentanque) with a few beers, every evening. Later, they would head to the bar and start singing loudly, with the whole town hearing their traditional clappa singing.

The one morning, we decided to run to a little beach. After about 2km, we came to a desolate little cove that had a rock house with a garden built on its shore. We were only planning a quick swim, but having fallen in love with the pristine water and white pebbly beach, we spent more than 2 hours in the water. We simply couldn’t tear ourselves away. Also, lucky for us, someone had left two pairs of goggles on the beach. Us four children took turns gazing around, amazed at the beauty that were beneath us.

I have lived near some of the best and most beautiful surfing beaches in the world and I’ve snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef, but this little town of Račišće with its glorious water, has stolen my heart. It is most definitely my favourite costal place in all the world.

We spent beautiful sunsets on our balcony, looking out over our stunning surroundings, and having precious conversations over a bottle of Martin’s homemade wine and freshly baked bread. I will never forget these special times!


Lovely times with some very dear friends…


I am so grateful for the three days we had here. It would always be too short in this amazing place. What a privilege to have stayed here! ❤️😄

Until next time,
– Kali –





Limericks by the Sea

Author: Eulain

Limericks by the Sea

Little islands dot the sea,

People are swimming happily.

They throw their nets out,

The boats are swaying all about.

The sunset as pink as could be.


A stone house village ever so small,

Clear blue water around it all.

Drinking beers the old men play,

Boules near the end of the day.

I’m jumping off the harbour wall.


Pinecone cricket is loads of fun,

It makes a person really run.

Hit the pinecone with all your might,

Make it fly  out of sight.

Now the pinecone cricket is done.



A little village called…

Author: Eulain

After the “Stroll on the invisible path” we found ourselves on a narrow paved road. We walked on it for about fifteen minutes before we entered a small village called Račišće . It had about thirty houses. We immediately looked for our place. It was not hard to find because there were only twelve homes on the water, and one of them was ours.

We were at number 107. There were no streets, it was that small that each house just had a number. We dropped our bags, slipped into our togs and jumped into the clear blue sea. It was quite hard to get to the water because the whole beach was made out of rocks.

The next day Ruzow and I went to the mini market to go get some breakfast. I noticed a funny car. It had red squares painted all over and it had a doll stuck to the front! After breakfast we went to the beach and for the rest of our stay that is where we spent the most of our time.

– Eulain –

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