Saturday September 15, 2017

The past couple of weeks have been packed with delightful surprises. And one very special surprise was the oh-so-luverly route we took on Thursday through a tiny country to the north of Italy. You’ve probably heard of Slovenia – right? But, like us, you probably know next to nothing about it – right? Well, next time you get the chance, go and visit!

We sang Venice a fond “Arrivederci!” (goodbye) on Thursday morning … crossed the Italian border (eventually) … then drove for ages through the neat-as-a-pin Slovenian countryside, passing untold patchwork-perfect farms and picture-perfect villages, before stopping en route at some fantastic subterranean caves in Postojna (pos-TOY-nyah) – where we rode an electric train and eyeballed stalactites, stalagmites and amazing 22-million-year-old rock formations.Later, we reached Ljubljana (loo-bil-LEE-arna), where we shared a short walking tour with one of the funniest, most entertaining old guys you can imagine (“I don’t understand why the Romans built so many ruins!”) … visiting the medieval city centre, a picturesque open-air market, the famous Three Bridges, the Baroque Town Hall and several other things I’ve already forgotten. With a population of just 300,000 Ljubljana is small, as capital cities go. But it has an impressive hilltop castle, the winding green Ljubljanica River, and café tables spilling into narrow streets.

We all agreed we wanna go back …

Come Friday morning, we covered more serious kilometres in the rain (check out the map), crossing eventually into Croatia and detouring to some must-see turquoise lakes at Plitvice (pleet-weet-cha – come on, try it). This wilderness area is a World Heritage Site that features thickly wooded hills, tumbling streams, silvery falls, and a network of trails and wooden walkways.

Finally, we hit the road again, overnighting in the ancient seaside town of Zadar, which boasts a history that goes back 3000 years, with Roman ruins, a city wall and moat, plus a Very Old Church (St Donat, built on top of Roman rubble).

Following an all-too-short night in a fantastic new resort/hotel, we did a quick walk-thru in the old town, and listened to a fascinating ‘sea-organ’ (underground pipes along the waterfront, played tunefully by the wind and waves). But we couldn’t stay long. You see, we had a rendezvous in Split we didn’t want to miss. Waiting for us in that busy Croatian port was our floating hotel, the Agape Rose – and, although it meant saying a sad goodbye to Elisabetta (our much-loved Italian Tour Guide), we were itching to get onboard.

05-43 Elisabetta-Mother Duck Award (769x1024)

COMING UP: Our long-awaited Croatian Cruise is finally underway, so stay tuned for more pix, info, blah-blah-blah, and awards …

PEOPLE-NEWS: There’s been a rush on Quacky Yellow Ducks, with women taking home more than their fair share …

  • JEANETTE won our ‘Road Less Travelled’ Award – for being easily led, following the wrong crowd, and getting herself somewhat lost at the Plitvice Lakes. She found us again, but not before the ever-watchful Duck-Spotter had duly noted her misdemeanor.
  • JANICE won our ‘Chocolate Extravaganza’ Award at dinner last night. She asked the restaurant staff if any more cheesecake was coming out, and the answer was, no, sorry. However, five minutes later, they bought Janice a large plate with wall-to-wall chocolate cakes on it … and Janice ate the lot! (Well, with a little bit of help …)
  • TRISHA won our Truly, I Haven’t Been Drinking’ Award – for asking the tour leader, over dinner last night: “Do we order our glass by the wine?”
  • ELISABETTA won our ‘One of those Nights’ Award – for, firstly, wrecking the curtain in her Ljubljana hotel room, pulling the entire arrangement off the wall when trying to shut them … then, second, for losing her cell-phone. She went to sleep, too tired to look for it, then woke in the night, searching in vain for a couple of hours, finally discovering it next morning in her bed! Elisabetta was also honoured with our farewell ‘Mother Duck’ Premium Award – for taking such good care of all her Kiwi ‘ducklings’ (that’s us) over the past fortnight.

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Keep it brief – and be sure to say who it’s for and who it’s from.)

This entry was posted in 2017 Italy & Croatia by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Hi Jocelyn and Allen
    Well, what beautiful photos, loved the sapphire lakes and waterfalls also the organ music played by the waves really amazing. You will be on your cruise now.
    We are down whitebaiting now, picking Latham up from Queenstown airport and he is coming back with me for a few night whitebaiting..
    Lola doing well.
    Darryn boys and Melissa all good talked to Darryn last night(Jacko doing well at work he has been selling now so exciting for him.
    Travel Safe and enjoy your cruise.
    Love Barry and Jillxxx

  2. Hi Coons …
    What treats .. never end do they. Love the pics and especially the beautiful Elisabetta – she is by far the best guide and the most knowledgeable on Venice. Yahoooo.
    Missing you … Love n Hugz xx

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