Month: January 2014

We No Longer Live in Oz

Or, The Yellow Brick Road is Not So Shiny Any More

I feel badly for my husband Mike.  When I met Mike he was living in the Pacific Northwest.  He was born and raised in Seattle and he lived with his front door unlocked when he slept.  It wasn’t something he did unconsciously he just never needed to lock his front door when he went out or when he was home.

Then I showed up and nearly had a coronary the first night I realized he was leaving the doors and windows unlocked.  I was born in New York and wouldn’t have dreamed of doing this ever.  I had then moved from New York to California and I lived through the terror of the many nights when the Hillside Strangler was lose and we not only locked windows and doors but in some cases we even nailed the windows shut. Mike wasn’t used to my need to lock everything up and he has always trusted those around him.  For me, people have to earn my trust.

Recently, the unthinkable happened to Mike and he was the target of a pickpocket ring while we were visiting Rome.  He was devastated.  It never even occurred to him that he had been targeted but after 12 seconds of watching the group and he interact I asked him if he still had his wallet and sure enough the little ‘bastards’ had lifted his wallet, and his faith in humanity, with it.

We have since had to have serious conversations on staying safe and not allowing others to target us.  I feel badly for him because this has caused him to have to question what people are saying to us and the validity of their questions and even made it harder to trust anyone.

Since his wallet was lifted we have twice more been targets but these times they got nothing and they realized we weren’t playing around.

The first time three kids wanted to help us with our luggage onto the train in Rome; again, they separated me and Mike and I knew immediately what they were doing so I yelled his name and they moved out of my way, but not before one of the girls was trying to open the zipper of my raincoat.

The next time was here in Madrid where a woman came up to Mike and started to ask him if he could help her.  With his hands still inside his pockets he told her he didn’t speak Spanish and couldn’t help.  She turned away disgusted.

Some of the major adjustments we have had to make include; we prop our luggage up against a wall and one of us stands with our backs to the luggage; we both walk with our hands in our pockets and even when people come up and try to ask for help or questions we leave our hands exactly in the pockets. The only thing in those pockets are now used Kleenex so I dare anyone to try and lift what they feel.  We don’t carry anything of value in open pockets.  We have zippered pockets all over all of our garments and we are both now wearing two coats with zippers everywhere and that still isn’t where the money is kept.

What distresses me the most however is the feeling of anger I feel now when we walk around; no longer can we talk freely with people.  Not being able to trust others until they earn this trust is hardest on Mike.  He has always been open and willing to chat with others about our lifestyle and where we have been and what we are doing.  Now we have to watch what we say and to whom; we have to watch others around us to see who is eyeing our luggage; we have to be careful with taxi drivers and where we use an ATM, and more.

The other day the taxi driver didn’t want to get out of the taxi to help us unload the luggage.  I told Mike to sit tight and I got out and unloaded the luggage.  Then I gave him the money for the cab fare.  Too many stories have been written about taxi drivers getting their fare and when the passengers get out they take off with the luggage hoping to score big.  Mike was wondering what I was doing and I had to explain it to him and again I felt badly that thinking the worst of people was part of my job in order to keep us safe and not victims.

I wish the world wasn’t like this.  I wish I could make things go back to the way they were before Mike met me and he didn’t need to lock his front door.  Unfortunately times have changed and this is the new world we live in.  So while we won’t stop traveling we will be more cautious with who we talk with and what we do.  Building relationships everyplace we go is what we do; building them and not being victims is what we must do.  So if we meet please don’t think badly of us if we take time to trust you; you see, the world has changed; we haven’t.  We are still the same warm and friendly people we have always been; we just wait to see if the people on the receiving end are worthy of that friendship.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

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You Say Potato, I say Patato

Everyone loves good food and wine.  However not everyone agrees on what constitutes good food and wine.

I love white wine.  My husband prefers red.

My favorite wines of all time came from Don Pasquale winery in Juanico, Uruguay

My favorite wines of all time came from Don Pascuale winery in Juanico, Uruguay. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

I prefer to eat Vegan or Vegetarian when I have too, and my husband eats everything including meat dishes.

Some people think that food smothered in sauces, be them cream or red are the way to go.  I say yuck.  I want plain and simple food.  I want to be the one to add salt, pepper, or other alternative spices to my food.  I don’t for heavens sake want my dish smothered in mayonnaise which is very common for some reason in a lot of the Latin American countries.  We are still trying to wrap our heads around that one.

Simply the best empanadas I've ever eaten came from Santiago Chile.

Simply the best empanadas I’ve ever eaten came from Santiago Chile. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The best overall wine I have tasted in all my years of travel came from Uruguay.  The best white wine I’ve tasted came from a little family owned winery in Croatia.

Because we want to live like the locals it has been easier for us to simply shop where they shop and to buy local fruits and vegetables to cook our own meals.  Eating out is incredibly expensive depending on where one goes and since costs are a factor in how we live we tend not to want to spend a lot of money on food.  We recently asked a group of brothers who were visiting Rome where they were eating during the day since the food was so expensive everywhere and they told us McDonalds!  Can’t do it; we won’t patronize junk fast food places.  We’d rather use our funds to travel some place new and meet new people.

I shop at local farmers markets in every city we have traveled too and lived in.  Nothing compares.

I shop at local farmers markets in every city we have traveled too and lived in. Nothing compares. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Now, we aren’t starving, far from it.  We’ve tasted and sampled some of the best foods in every country we have gone too.  We have shared meals with locals and asked them what their favorite restaurants are and what their favorite dishes are.  Everyone loves to share their thoughts and recommendations on good food.  They want you to experience and appreciate the quality and the expertise of the foods in their culture.  We haven’t been to a country thus far where someone we asked about their favorite food in their country and they tell us to eat at the local foreign restaurant.  Like no one in Rome said to eat at the Chinese buffet.  No one in Mexico said to eat at McDonalds!  No one in England told us to eat Thai food but we found an awesome place anyway.

Best white wine I have ever had - really.

Best white wine I have ever had – really.  The winery is Toreta on Korcula, in the small town of Smokvica. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Food is the reason we have the energy to keep traveling and to keep wandering the streets.  Food is also common ground for the start of great conversations and it can also be the basis for making new friends.  So here’s my salute to good food, good wine and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

A ‘Ferry’ Tale

One of the great benefits of not traveling as tourists is that we do not have to travel in a rush to get some place.  What this has done is allow us to use alternative means of getting from point A to point B.  Recently we rode on two ferry boat services to help us get from one country to another.

One, Blue Line Ferry, got us from Split, Croatia to Ancona, Italy.  It is one of two ferry services that connects Croatia and Italy.  The other is Jadrolinija which runs more frequently but not on the day that we were interested in so we booked with Blue Line.  This commuter ferry service has sleeping cabins for those who wish to purchase a little more comfort, cargo hold areas to transport your vehicles; and restaurants, casinos and cafes to help kill the time.  With a trip lasting approximately 12 hours it was a pleasant enough way to travel.

Our cabin was small but the beds were comfortable

Our cabin was small but the beds were comfortable. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The cabin’s on the lowest level, which is what we booked; were small and the air inside was hot and stagnant.  The hallways smelled like diesel so we weren’t able to leave our cabin door open to get any fresh air but we had comfortable beds to sleep in which beats how many people travel on the ferry’s – they sleep in the hallways!

The bathrooms were serviceable but no one is going to try and take a shower in a place where the toilet and the shower share the same floor drain.

The food was cafeteria style and this night they had 26 groups going from Croatia to Italy so the main restaurant dining room was closed to anyone not a member of these groups.  This ferry boat service is incredibly popular with the locals and many Italians were on board this night.  The ride was smooth and calm and the time passed quickly.  The boat docked and because we did not get off with the main stream of passengers they called our name at 7:30am to make sure we were getting off the boat!

They also had a fresh juice bar on board

They also had a fresh juice bar on board. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Total cost for the two of us was 80 Euros or $110.

Our second ferry experience came on our departure from Rome where we took the Grimaldi Ferry Line ship, The Roma, from Rome to Barcelona.  Service between the two countries is done regularly and it’s easy to see why this line is a favorite of the locals.

From the time of boarding we were helped on board with our luggage and shown to our cabin.  The room was large for just the two of us and comfortable.  We had booked an outside cabin which gave us natural light from the very large window.  The ride was 20 hours from Rome to Barcelona with the boat leaving Rome at 22:15 and arriving around 16:15 the following day.  This boat makes this trip all week (except Sunday’s) so you can go round trip on this loop.

We were incredibly comfortable on this ferry boat and relaxed for the 20 hour ride from Rome to Barcelona

We were incredibly comfortable on this ferry boat and relaxed for the 20 hour ride from Rome to Barcelona. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

What we liked best was that there were no carpets anywhere on board; it was all hard surface flooring.  The ship was clean and the staff for the most part was friendly.  They have cafeteria dining; a formal dining room (and the prices to go with a formal dining room); a coffee bar and a full bar with food and drink around the outdoor pool!  Yes, this ferry boat actually has a swimming pool and outdoor bar area.  They also have a casino, internet café, gift shop, spa and fitness center.  Since this trip takes 20 hours it must be incredibly busy during the summer to travel on the sundeck and in the pool area as you make your way to Rome/Barcelona (a nice way to spend a few hours).  The ride was also smooth and effortless and one would be hard pressed to know that you were sailing on the Mediterranean.

Total trip cost, with a private room with bath for the two of us was 250 Euros, or roughly $340.  Again, airfare would have cost us more and we wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much done.  I was able to get several more stories written and Mike got some much needed rest.

Food costs are high on both of these vessels so carrying food with you is recommended if at all possible.  No one stopped us from carrying in fruit or water and both ferry lines scanned our luggage prior to boarding.

They have a pool on this ferry.  The pool deck has a full bar and grill so food and drink were plentiful.  Even though it was January 12th we ate lunch on the pool deck level.

They have a pool on this ferry. The pool deck has a full bar and grill so food and drink were plentiful. Even though it was January 12th we ate lunch on the pool deck level. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Our experiment in alternative travel is complete for now.  Any other time we can use either of these services to get around we won’t hesitate to do so.  And we definitely recommend them to anyone else who might have a little extra time to travel, like a local.

Florence Lince

www.about.me/florencelince

Walk This Way

But Be Sure to Look Up, and Down, and All Around

For those of you who have never been to Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel this is first and foremost a post for you.

Transitioning from Croatia to Spain can take many forms.  I decided that we should visit the city of Rome for a week since my husband Mike had never been here before.  What I really wanted was to share some of my favorite places with him and Vatican City was at the top of this list.  I had to prepare him however.  I explained that one just doesn’t open the door to the Sistine Chapel and enter it; no; it takes time and patience and walking, lots and lots of walking to get to see some of the most famous works of art done by Italian master Michelangelo.  You must go up and down stairs to visit gallery after gallery of artwork.  You walk on floors covered in mosaics.  You walk in halls covered in tapestries and view ceilings covered in paintings and reliefs.  You glide past windows with carved wood work and you see statues and monuments and other priceless works of art in glass cases.  You wonder that so much beauty can be housed in one location and the more you walk the more overwhelmed you become.  It is pointless to try and caution someone about what lies ahead; it is overwhelming no matter how much you prepare.

After walking for almost three hours (two for the Sistine Chapel and one for St. Peter’s itself) my husband let out a long breath and said that which I knew; “it’s grandiose on a scale I’ve never experienced before.”  He is still processing all that he saw.

I have therefore created a movie slideshow of some of the sights one will see on your way to the Sistine Chapel and some of the highlights of St. Peter’s Basilica; truly one of the most spectacular symbols of Catholicism one will ever visit.  Photos inside the Sistine Chapel are no longer allowed so sadly those are not part of my presentation.

For those of you who have been to the Holy See hopefully the video will be a nice reminder of your visit and bring back some great memories. Enjoy.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

Arrivederci Roma

Or, How Do I get My Coins Out of Trevi Fountain

For the first time in my life I am embarrassed to be Italian.  It was my idea for Mike and I to travel to Rome, excited as I was to share the amazing history and beauty of this city with him as we transitioned from Croatia to Spain.  Anyone can simply fly from one country to another but I had the thought that we had the time so we should take a week and explore Rome since Mike had never been here.  It is a week I will not forget.

On the second day of our stay here we took a walk to see the old Roman Forum and the Coliseum.  We spent several hours walking and taking pictures to give Mike time to absorb the history that is Ancient Rome.  It was while leaving the Coliseum that we decided to take the subway back to Termini Station instead of walking the mile back to our hostel.  It was while attempting to board that subway that a group of gypsy kids swarmed Mike and stole his wallet while distracting him.  He didn’t realize it but 12 seconds after they blocked my entrance into the subway I knew something was wrong and I asked him if he had his wallet, he didn’t.  It was too late; the doors to the subway had closed and the kids stood there, still in their circle waiting to speed away with his driver’s license, his credit cards, a little cash, and his pride.   It is humiliating and depressing to be targeted when you feel that you are not target material.

What made things worse in my opinion was that we were told by those who watched this happen how these kids steal; how others in this city keep their wallets and purses chained to their persons; how and where these kids hide to watch for their next victim; and that the police do nothing to stop them.  We were still told to report the theft to the local police department and twice we tried to comply.  We went to a police station after we had called every bank in the US to report the theft and the first station we went to was closed because they had a big case happening and all manpower had been put on that case.  Really?  One of the largest cities in the world and the police department is closed because there is a really big event happening?

The next day we went to another station to report the theft and again we were told to wait and someone would come to take our report.  An hour of watching men walking around the station slapping each other on the back and chatting and doing nothing we left disgusted and more aware than ever why the crime in this city is so high.  There is no one leading this group of people in uniform and this is why gypsies steal on subways and on the streets; there is no one to stop them.

If I had been thinking faster I would have begun to take pictures of those little thieves; tons and tons of photos and then plastered them all over the internet.  Having their mug shots spread all over the internet will help to get their thieving to stop.  It is clear that the police in this city are worthless and ending the crime has to happen with the common man.

Look around Rome the next time you come; if you do; and realize that there is no economy except tourism.  You drive the shops and the restaurants and the hotels and the tourism companies.  Everyone in this city works for you.  It is time to either stop coming here or to demand that you be safe while here.  If they want our money to keep this economy going they had better do something to earn it; like make sure the thieving stops.

Until that time I will no longer look at Rome in the same way; nor will I return.  Thousands of years ago structures were built in this city that are still standing; monuments to past greatness and of those who led this once great country; today there is high crime and graffiti and vandalism everywhere.  For the people of this country to tolerate these facts makes me sad and embarrassed.  It is time for the real citizens of Rome to take their city back and to rid it of the crime and vandalism that Rome is sadly known for.  It is time to fight back against a police department derelict in its duty to those it was sworn to protect.

Rome fell once due to greed and corruption.  Will the citizens of modern Rome let history repeat itself?   Do not let the fiddle play…

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

Marenda

Or No, This Isn’t a Local Dance; It’s a Way of Life

Tucked away on a side street in Sibenik, away from the maddening crowds, sits the little restaurant of Marenda.  Inside this quiet local restaurant there are places for perhaps 20 people to sit.  Many come here on a warm summer day or evening to sit along the outdoor sidewalk and enjoy the old traditions of Croatia.

Owner Veselka Hazalin gets to her kitchen early (7:00am) and begins to prepare the foods that offer real comfort to old time Croatians.  Here she makes prsut, corned beef brisket, sir, pancetta, and more.  They serve wine right from the barrel and people from around Sibenik come here to drink and talk and share memories of their lives.  The owners, as so many people do here in Croatia, make their own olive oil and I can attest to how wonderful it was.

Veselka Hazalin, owner of Marenda and Olivera Slavisa, our friend and guide

Veselka Hazalin, owner of Marenda and Olivera Slavica, our friend and guide. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

On the day we visited, and with our friend and guides Nina Belamaric and Olivera Slavica leading the way we were served a dish made from barley and beans with fresh olive oil; brisket, olives, onion, and crusty bread.  What surprised them and our hostess was when I told them that I had grown up eating the barley dish.   Every December 13th (St. Lucy’s feast day, or eating St. Lucy’s Wheat) my grandmother and mother would make this dish and its always been one of my favorites, even down to serving it warm with the olive oil.   I eat barley as a hot cooked cereal as often as possible when I can find it.  In Scotland I found bags of it because people make whiskey from it.  In Panama I found the barley but people thought of it as poor man’s food.  I’ll take poor man’s food over today’s fast food anytime.  Anyway the dish was wonderful and yes, this would be considered a vegan / vegetarian meal.  Mike and the ladies had their dish served with pork which is tradition.  My dish was made special for me since I do not eat meat.  However the restaurant offers one new and different vegetable dish every day in the summer season so you can realistically eat here every day and never eat the same meal twice.

Love this dish. Barley, beans and fresh olive oil. Food good enough for kings.

Love this dish. Barley, beans and fresh olive oil. Food good enough for kings. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Accompanying the meal was a platter of cut corned beef.  Again, to their surprise we knew what this meat was and we explained how we cooked corned beef; in a stew format with potatoes, cabbage and carrots (for St. Patty’s day for all our Irish friends).

Corned beef brisket, one of Mike's favorites.

Corned beef brisket, one of Mike’s favorites. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Marenda began many years ago in Croatia when the farmers, who work long hours in the fields in Croatia (in every country – thank you farmers!) needed something substantial too eat while working in the fields.  Marenda is a wide assortment of foods from cooked beef and ribs to barley stews and cheeses and prosciuttos and olives.  Sadly people everywhere consider this to be simple and poor man’s food.  I consider it food for the ages and of kings.  One can eat incredibly simple but well. We have lost sight of what food was and is for when we think of this food as simple and poor man’s food.

These cured olives also came from the owners fields and they were just like grandma used to make. Served with marinated onions and crusty bread I could have made of meal of these alone!

These cured olives also came from the owners fields and they were just like grandma used to make. Served with marinated onions and crusty bread I could have made a meal of these alone! © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The restaurant is open from 8:00am to around 4:00 or 5:00pm during the winter months and open until midnight during the summer.  It has been open in this location over 40 years.  This is a place that tourists would never frequent unless they have a local to tell them about it.  The menu may be simple but the food is first rate.  And isn’t that the hallmark of a good restaurant.

We have always felt more at home in the small local restaurants.

We have always felt more at home in the small local restaurants. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The lesson here is that food prepared the old fashioned way is more memorable and longer lasting than fast food made for the masses.  Many locals come here after a hard days work to buy take away containers filled with home cooking instead of going out for a fast food burger.  I applaud them for their choice.

We love simple.  When we travel we don’t look for fast food places to eat at.  We understand why tourists eat at them but that isn’t for us and we don’t patronize them in foreign countries.  Those places do not represent how these countries were founded or what their people eat.

Of course there are traditional desserts as well. What meal would be complete without a little something sweet?

Of course there are traditional desserts as well. What meal would be complete without a little something sweet? © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

I don’t know about you but I always look for small local restaurants to eat at because the old saying really does apply here; the best surprises really do come in small packages.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

Unwrapping Gifts

Or Something Special Around Every Corner 

Have you ever walked a celestial labyrinth?  Up until last week I hadn’t either.  Then, on a beautiful winter day here in Sibenik, Croatia, I was invited to walk the Labyrinth of Wisdom built by famed labyrinth maker Adrian Predrag Kezele and donated to the people of Croatia by Marina Baranovic.

Mike with our hostess, Marina Baranovic.

Mike with our hostess Marina Baranovic. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

There are many styles of labyrinths and they have been around for centuries.  There are nine celestial labyrinths; The labyrinth of life and death – Saturn labyrinth; Rahu Labyrinth – the labyrinth of transformation; The labyrinth of freedom – Ketu labyrinth; Sun labyrinth – the labyrinth of power; Moon labyrinth – the labyrinth of feelings; Mars labyrinth – the labyrinth of energy; Mercury labyrinth – the labyrinth of connection; The labyrinth of wisdom – Jupiter labyrinth; The labyrinth of love and creation – Venus labyrinth.

On the outskirts of Sibenik, away from the crowds of the city center, is a parcel of land which once belonged to Marina Baranovic’s parents, who farmed this land.  Marina’s family still uses the land to grow olives and other food items but Marina wanted to do more with the land and she wanted to leave a legacy to her town that would stand the test of time.  She felt that building two labyrinths was a good use for the land, and a good gift to the people of Croatia.

There are two labyrinths here. The first is the Labyrinth of Wisdom which reduces dishonesty and wrong judgment; removes ignorance, prejudices and possessiveness; reveals the purpose of life and gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness.

The labyrinths were designed by Adrian Predrag Kezele.

The labyrinths were designed by Adrian Predrag Kezele. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

The second is the Labyrinth of Contact which reveals the hidden abilities; makes visible what was invisible; connects what was separated and enables us to understand the secrets of the Universe.

The Labyrinth of Contact - walk them both to boost their power.

The Labyrinth of Contact – walk them both to boost their power. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Putting the two labyrinths in the same area boosts their power (as per Ganesha: Lord of Success).  One simply begins at the beginning and walks the labyrinths while contemplating and asking for enlightenment or fulfillment.  Once you reach the middle you return the way you came.  These two labyrinths have a beginning, middle and an end.  They are free to see and open to the public year round.  This is a very special gift to the people of not only Sibenik, to the people of Croatia, but also to the world.

Our day continued.  Driving though town and out into the countryside we drove up a hill lined with the Stations of the Cross.  At the top of the hill stands the remnant of the medieval town of Vrana.  The views of Vrana Lake from this vantage point are unmatched and even on a cloudy day the vista that unfolded before us was breathtaking.  From as early as 1070 Vrana had become one of the most important centers of political life in Croatia.  The land was given by the church to the Knights Templar in the 12th Century (one of three religious orders to be given the land over time) and it was rumored that they buried their treasure somewhere on the land.  Today there are remnants of past buildings on site; a rebuilt small chapel and picnic tables so that families can come and spend the day exploring and learning more about this interesting part of Croatian history.

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The views from the top of the hill are unmatched. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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There are picnic tables here for families to come and spend some time exploring and enjoying the view. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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Our crazy friends were enjoying the view from the edge of the cliff. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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Any excuse to take a photo of us we take it! © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Our last gift to be unwrapped came at Vransko Jezero or Black Crow Lake located on Lake Vrana, the largest natural lake in Croatia.  This is one of the protected areas of Croatia and the dominant feature of the park is the ornithological reserve, an almost untouched natural habitat for birds; a rare wetland system full of biodiversity. The lake provides an ample amount of fish for fishermen (pike, tench, carp).  Here locals and bird watching enthusiasts from around the world spend hours enjoying not only the beauty of the area but also in seeing some of the unique birds that inhabit this area.  We were there during winter so the water table was higher than in summer when the water comes up and around the walkway but the water was shallow and in some places only inches deep.  This natural lake is even more amazing when one realizes that it is 3 miles long and only 15 feet deep which makes every part of this lake accessible as a feeding ground.

Local bird watching expert Leonardo Grubelic led our tour.  In addition to enjoying bird watching, Leo spends approximately 10 days every summer here on the lake finding new species of birds and categorizing them for future research and bird watchers.  He imparted that the best time to bird watch is actually in winter so we were there during the best time of year.  It was quiet and the day was beautiful and only one other person came to enjoy the view.  Vrana Lake (Vransko Jezero) is also an important migratory location for birds.  Not only does it offer a lush environment for the birds but it is a good resting point for them as they travel both north and south.  Leo reported that 150 species of birds use this area for migration but more than 250 bird species have been seen here.

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Reeds grow on a gently sloping terrain in shallow water. Conditions such as these are excellent for many species of birds which use the reeds as protection from other predators. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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Our local bird watching expert Leonardo Grubelic gave us some insight into the world of bird watchers. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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The walkway out to the main bid watching site is over a mile long. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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One of the main bird watching stations. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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This area is protected as a Park of Nature. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

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We were quiet as possible since this area is home to over 150 species of birds but over 250 species use this area on their migration paths from north to south and back again. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

As our sightseeing, hiking and bird watching tour of Vrana Lake and its surroundings ended one thought stood out for me.  If I hadn’t been with a local guide I would never have enjoyed my exploration as much.  There is so much more to Sibenik than St. James Cathedral and old town Sibenik, and on this day we got to see more of what makes this area special and why we chose to live in it if even for a short time.  From walking the Labyrinth of Wisdom, to exploring the cliffs overlooking Vrana Lake to the experience of visiting the bird watching sanctuary with an expert we learned more about this region than many people take the time to learn.  And we made some new friends along the way, which to me was the best gift of all.

Florence Lince

www.6monthers.com

 

Author’s Note: This special day was arranged by Tina Vickov, Owner of Sibenik Plus Tourist Agency and Biljana Lambasa, Owner of Personal Insider Tours (Zagreb, Croatia).  Click on their names to learn more about them and to book directly with them.  Bird watching tours with Leonardo Grubelic can be arranged via Tina Vickov.