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Monday, 20 June 2016

Hello........

Hi everyone, sorry it's been a while but things have been busy here with one thing and another ie many hospital visits with MIL who is thankfully well (for her age 86) again now and  I've had two lots of surgery ( carpal tunnel release on both hands) which has been very successful.

I will eventually get back to telling you all about the rest of our trip to China, I bet you've forgotten all about it haven't you?.  First I want to tell you about a holiday we had recently in Croatia. which we thoroughly enjoyed because it was just totally relaxing instead of touring, unlike like most of the holidays we have done for the past 6 years.

We flew into Dubrovnik and took a ferry for the 25minute crossing for our 10night stay on the little island called Kolocep, which is just off the coast of Dubrovnik, at the Sensimar Kalamota Island Resort.    The island is traffic free and has about 160 inhabitants and the hotel is the only one on the island. Everything is all inclusive at the hotel and adults only, mostly couples, so we thought it would be the perfect place to totally relax after a quite taxing time and it was exactly that.

Here's a few photos of the hotel.





All the accommodation is in villas set in the hillside, so the resort is not suitable for the infirm as there are lots of steps and hills to climb.   Our room was in the topmost villa and we had 72 steps to climb from the main part of the hotel to get there.  Good exercise after all the delicious food we were eating three times a day!  Here's the view from our balcony.
We spent most days relaxing round the beautiful pool, drinking fabulous cocktails, reading, listening to music and sleeping.


Our evenings consisted of dressing to dine in the fabulous restaurants, be it the buffet restaurant, either of the two Al a Carte restuarants or the local restaurant, Villa Ruza, a short stroll away, where they served the most fabulously tender lamb Dalmatian style,  which was cooked in a big clay oven for over three hours.


We weren't completely lazy we did venture away from the island to visit Mostar in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina.    On the way to Mostar we visited the church of Herzegovinian Gračanica,  situated on a Crkvina hill above the town.

The church is very beautiful inside, apparently built following the model of the Gracanica church in Kosovo.

The views from the church are magnificent.


We continued our journey to Mostar looking forward to seeing the famous bridge, which was destroyed in 1993 by the Croatians during the war there.   This Youtube video shows the bridge being destroyed.

The bridge has obviously been rebuilt and is quite magnificent.   Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most recognizable landmarks, and is considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans.


We visited a mosque and a traditional Turkish house in the town.

Unfortunately the weather was atrocious, it literally poured with rain all the time we were there and we got soaked walking round the lovely cobbled streets which were virtual rivers because of the rain.   However, we are happy we made the trip because the sight of the magnificent bridge was worth it.

On the way back we stopped at a traditional vilage called Pocitelj for some refreshment.  The walled town of Počitelj evolved in the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

It was a tiring day and one we would have enjoyed a lot more had the weather been kinder but hey ho such is life.     We headed back to Dubrovnik to catch the ferry back to the island hotel in time for dinner and a rest.

After another few days of doing nothing by the pool we decided to take the ferry over to Dubrovnik itself for the evening.   Here I am waiting for the ferry on the island's pier.

The sun was setting as we set sail.



This was the view of the Dubrovnik Bridge from the ferry as we neared the harbour.   The Dubrovnik bridge is one of the largest single-pylon, cable-stayed bridges in the world.  52m above the water, it spans a large cove north-west of the city.   This water crossing has shortened the distance between Split and Dubrovnik on the coastal road by 12km.

Dubrovnik from the sea.
We spent a lovely evening wandering around the city, enjoying the architecture and the nightlife,









before enjoying a superb local bottle of wine with a plate of local cheeses in a lovely little wine bar called D'vino, which himself had discovered on the internet before our trip.

With only one day left we spent it round the pool again,


then another delicious dinner,



The pefect way to end a perfect holiday before packing for the journey home and a very early departure.

I shall be getting back to my report on our trip to China very soon so I hope you'll join me for that.

Monday, 14 March 2016

China Part 8......

After a very early breakfast on board, we disembarked our ship for a coach ride to the Three Gorges Dam.  The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, it is the world's largest power station in terms of installed capacity.
As well as producing electricity, the dam is intended to increase the Yangtze River's shipping capacity and reduce the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. The Chinese government regards the project as a historic engineering, social and economic success,with the design of state-of-the-art large turbines, and a move toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions.


However, the dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes, including an increased risk of landslides.  There is no doubt that the dam is a fantastic piece of engineering and there are areas that would appear to be more of a park, quite pleasant in fact.


After visiting the dam we joined our bus again for the journey to the railway station to catch the Bullet Train to Wuhan.  Thetop speed of the train is 186 mil/h (300 km/h) and is planned to be increased to 217 mi/h (350 km/h) in 2016.
Our party of 40 had seats booked together in one carriage, along with all our luggage, which we had to store at either end of the carriage. 
The seats are quite comfortable considering we had a 3 hour journey.   Our tour guide said she would let us know about 10 minutes before we were due in to our station as we needed to be ready to get off.   She suggested we block the exits so no-one could get on before we had got off as we only had a matter of minutes before the doors closed automatically and couldn't be opened manually.   If we didn't get off in time the next stop was Shanghai!   Thankfully we all got off safely and porters took our luggage to the coach, which then took us to lunch - yes another Chinese banquet.

After lunch we were transported to the airport for our flight to Xian.  After an uneventful flight and bus journey we arrived at our hotel about 10.45p.m. that evening and were so tired we ordered room service - not a chinese banquet but a burger and a beer for a change!    Sleep came easily that night.

Please join me for Part 9 when we visit The Terracotta Army -  the main reason I wanted to visit China.