Overland expedition of Eastern Europe Part 3: Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic and for good reason. It’s impressive white wall fortification has stood the test of many centuries and offers a step back in time to a day when merchant ships roamed its ports and cannons protected its freedom. Highlights for me include a walk along this ancient wall to get an amazing perspective from above this beautiful city, a ferry ride to nearby Lokrum Island, and convenient day trips to Bosnia and Montenegro.

From Split, where I left off, Dubrovnik has regular bus transfers. The journey took about 3 hours (125 HRK) with a brief rest stop in Neum, a narrow strip of Bosnian coast. The interesting thing about this bus ride was the necessary border crossings into Bosnia & Herzegovina to get to the other side of Croatia. What I learned about these two borders (one for each side) is that depending on the officer’s mood, your passport may or may not be stamped. In my case, it was stamped departing Croatia, but not stamped returning into Croatia. Interestingly, there were no Bosnian border officers. The bus terminates at Dubrovnik’s main bus station and to get to the old town (Pile Gate), you take city bus 1A or 1B (12 HRK).

Dubrovnik was the highlight of my visit to Croatia. I spent a day walking around the old city, exploring the narrow alleyways, passing through its three gates. I quickly realized why Game of Thrones was set in this picturesque walled city. Continue reading “Overland expedition of Eastern Europe Part 3: Dubrovnik”

Overland expedition of Eastern Europe Part 2: Slovenia & Croatia

Eastern Europe has a lot to offer in terms of history, architecture, and natural beauty. It costs a fraction compared to Western Europe and has  the mystique of being part of the former communist block. Given that it’s been almost 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the region has developed a great deal and fears of safety or totalitarian regimes should not dissuade you from visiting.

In the first part of this Eastern European expedition, I left off in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here, I’ll cover Slovenia and Croatia, with my favorite highlights being Lake Bled, Split, and Dubrovnik.
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Overland expedition of Eastern Europe Part 1: Czech Republic & Slovakia

Eastern Europe, home of many former communist dictatorships, deep history, and intriguing culture, has been a fascination of mine for some time. On this trip, I traveled overland by train, bus, and car across the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, covering the currents states of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. In this first post of the series, I’ll go over the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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Good ol’ fashioned Soviet architecture in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (formerly known as the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic) is known for Soviet architecture in Central Asia, so I decided to walk down Bishkek’s main thoroughfare, Chuy Avenue (Чуйский проспект). From 1936 to 1961 it was known as Stalin Street, and from 1974 as Lenin Prospekt. This wide street, now dotted with modern shops and restaurants, once hosted Soviet military parades as they marched along side Soviet government buildings.
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Qatar Airways Free Doha City Tour Review

Qatar Airways offers a free Doha City tour and I was really excited to take advantage of it during my long layover at Doha Hamad International Airport. It gave me the opportunity to check off another country on my list without having to pay for the expensive Qatar Visa. The tour is about 4 hours long and covers the essential parts of Doha. The itinerary includes the Museum of Islamic Art, Katara Cultural Village, the Pearl-Qatar, and finally the Souq Waqif.
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Vienna Central Cemetery, seeing Beethoven and Mozart

Vienna, known as the City of Music, has many has many musicians who call it their eternal home. I took a day trip to Vienna’s Central Cemetery and saw Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, and Mozart’s memorial (he was buried in an unmarked mass grave). Admission is free and it’s a short tram ride from the Ringstrasse. It’s a very large cemetery and you should allow at least two hours once you’re there.

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An afternoon walk around Vienna’s Ringstrasse

Vienna’s main attractions are around the Ring Road (German: Ringstraße) and it’s good for a day walk. Among the attractions are the Heldenplatz, Rathaus, Austrian Parliament, the Natural history museum, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Most of these places had admission costs of around €10-15 each, so I decided just to marvel at the architecture from the outside.

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