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Tweedbank Station to Melrose, walking the Scottish Borders

December 2018 – a rail journey from Edinburgh to Tweedbank and a short but stunning walk to Melrose in Roxburghshire, where you will find the ruins of a magnificent Medieval Abbey.

The Tweed River, Scottish Borders.

I took the train to Tweedbank in the Borders – it’s the end of the line. It takes 1 hr and the service runs every half hour. It costs £9.30 with an Over 50s Railcard ( I booked the ticket and renewed the rail card last night online through Scotrail for £15 for the year and it took about 5 minutes). Then it’s a 40 minutes walk each way into the town of Melrose, although that doesn’t allow for what I call ‘astonishment time’ ie time for stopping at intervals because, Oh my, look at that, oh I must take a photo, I just can’t believe it, it’s so gorgeous!

The Tweed River between Tweedbank and Melrose, Scottish Borders.

If you like you can stop reading this now and open YouTube or Spotify and find Fording the Tweed By Savourna Stevenson, so that you have something magical to listen to as you continue reading and imagining you are taking this journey with me.

Choose a day where it won’t go above 2 degrees celsius so that it stays white and hard underfoot. Wear thermals under your normal clothes, plus a coat, woolly hat and cosy gloves.

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Jack Frost was at work overnight.

You know what they say, it’s not the weather that’s the problem in Scotland it’s having the right clothes! Not being able to bend your elbows because you have a thick jumper on under your not-quite-big-enough jacket is a small price to pay for all this beauty.

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You can see Arthur’s Seat and the Pentland hills from the train.

You will travel on the Waverley Route, so called as it refers to Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. Start by facing in the direction you are coming from and sitting on the left. This way you will have wonderful views of Edinburgh – Arthur’s Seat. Ignore the rest unless you enjoy the industrial outskirts of cities.

When you hear the nice lady announce Gorebridge, change seats so that you are looking the way you are going and you can either plump for right or left (the views are equally attractive) or, like me you can leap from side to side because, well because the views are equally enticing.

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Expanses of farm land in the sun, Lothian Region, Scotland.

People seem to have it in for Galashiels, so I will blog separately about that. Suffice to say that it is impossible for a whole town to be boring and I know some lovely people who live there and they like it a lot. It has an excellent brass band for a start.

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Leaving Galashiels. Straight out of the 19th century! Scotland.

You will not need a map nor must you look up the way in advance or use your phone. Believe me, if it’s possible to get lost I would have and it’s not. I promise. Sit back and relax. Feast your eyes on the hills, rivers, pretty houses, and majestic trees. Over on one side you will spy the traffic – be pleased that you are not driving, have a nice cup of tea and a comfy seat – you can just gawp.

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From the train window between Edinburgh and Tweedback on a chilly morning, Scotland.

Tweedbank station is new and modern with a massive car park. There is one line, two platforms and everything is properly signposted. There is a bus if you prefer.

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The end of the line, Waverley Route, Tweedbank Station. Waiting areas and ticket machines in the middle.
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Connecting buses, Tweedbank Station, Borders.

Otherwise, walk along the only way you can and straight ahead you will see the cycle path.

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Cycle path from Tweedback Station towards Melrose, Scottish Borders.

Today I was enchanted by the way the hoar highlighted the seed heads, fence posts, and each individual blade of grass.

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The stalks were as tall as me, upstanding!

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You won’t get lost – there are multiple signs: Melrose Link on the left; National Cycle Network on the right.

 

 

There will be aluminium buildings to your left. When the SPPA (Scottish Public Pensions Agency) is ahead, admire their gardens and peer at the poor folk inside working on such a wonderful day. Smile. Then walk to the right of them, following those signs.

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The SPPA gardens.

You will see that you are joining the Southern Upland Way.

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This little walk forms part of the Southern Upland Way.

Very soon there is a road to cross and opposite, through a little wooden gate at waist height, is a path with steps going down and there is the Tweed River, burbling on your left.

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Lowood Bridge over the River Tweed, Scottish Borders.

On the right you may be lucky enough to see two Highland cattle, and if it is cold enough it will look as if they are vaping with condensed air coming sideways simultaneously from both nostrils in opposite directions.

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Highland Cattle, Scottish Borders.
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Can you see him steaming?

I scraped the ice from the tourist board telling about the fantastically named Skirmish Hill where King James V’s men fought those of the Duke of Buccleuch and won. The 14 year old monarch is said to have watched from a safe place.

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Skirmish Hill hidden behind the tree, Scottish Borders.
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Follow the thistle signs!

At the kissing gate go to the left of the houses and you will see signs. Almost immediately continue through the woods to left. The way goes uphill with a wooden handrail, green with lichen.

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Holy Trinity Church, Melrose, Scotland with the Eildon Hills behind.

The ferns were all flattened by frost as I came into a clearing, going gently downhill. Here I spied more information, this time about fishing: grayling and salmon who make the courageous journey from sea upstream to fresh waters to spawn, often against all odds.

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Honestly, the water did really look like this: shiny and luminous. Rver Tweed, Scotland.

There is a choice coming up:
You can either go past the hedge which is too high to see over (I stood on one of the handy benches to get a shot), ignore the sign and keep on going for a while to see the Chain Bridge, but then turn back and take Town Centre sign. This will take you between the rugby club (left) and the green park (right)

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Taken on the way back when the sun was lowering, here is the bench mentioned above.

Or keep walking past the church to the Chain Bridge and around behind the town centre coming in by the road directly to the Abbey.

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The impressive Chain Bridge, near Melrose, Scotland. Ice still on the ground at 11am.

I took the second option because it was signed Abbey Walk.

Everyone is very friendly as are their dogs. A collie politely laid her pink ball at my toes, her nose flat along the ground, eyes expectant. The second time she came back she showed me the tricks she could do with it, presumably as encouragement and to distract from my muddy fingers. The third time, the gap between me and her owner having widened considerably, I informed her this would be the last, before hurling it behind me.

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Here you can halt to admire the horses on the left, or perhaps the motorbikes on the right. (You can pick up a copy of their free magazine too.)

You will continue onto a small road here. Turn left if you wish to visit Newstead.

Hang a right at the main road where the signs mysteriously disappear (sorry I guess what I wrote above was wrong at this juncture).

Walk past the Abbey Woollen Mill shop, or visit if you like. Carry on past the houses and careful because it’s a busy road, but not for long.

Don’t take the next right (St Marys Road) unless visiting the Harmony Garden. The nearby Georgian Manor House is available for holiday lets.

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Instead go straight on see to see Melrose Abbey on the left, behind the wall. David I foundede the first Cistercian Abbey in 1136. The heart of Robert the Bruce is believed to be buried in the chapter house there. Opening hours and link to the Historic Scotland page are at the end of this blog. The bus stop is to the right of the monument.

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Public toilets, Melrose, Scotland.
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The magnificent medieval Melrose Abbey ruins.

The town centre is in the middle of a triangle with a unicorn on an extremely high pillar in its middle. Originally this would have been the Mercat Cross where all goods for sale, proclamations were made and criminals punished. The heraldic unicorn is the supporter for the Royal Arms. Here you will find a pharmacy, and library plus The Roman Centre. There are lots of hotels, cafés and nice independent shops. There are lots of bookshops, partly because the people who live there like to read, and there is also a Book Festival. Explore!

 

 

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The Bookroom at the bottom of Dingleton Road, Melrose, Scotland.
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Outside a dog, a book is a man’s best friend – inside a dog, it’s too dark to read! The local library right in the centre where it should be, Melrose, Scotland.

After your browsing and sightseeing, you can return the other way if you did what I did: to get back to the station, walk out of town along the A6091 road with the Co-operative store (food) on your right, and head towards the Melrose Rugby Club. Anyone will be able to point you in that direction as rugby is THE sport in the Borders.

If it’s still light, enjoy the grand trees, admire the mole hills, and tune into the water as you wander.

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A gentleman and I passed the time of day as we recognised each other from the morning when we were both going in the opposite direction.

Remember that things look different when retracing one’s steps! You must cross two roads and keep both the SPPA and the aluminium buildings on on your right. Keep following the white Scottish thistles and yellow arrow. The final cycle path part is fully lit when it’s darkling (3.30pm at this time of year).

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Birds twitched: robin, chaffinch, blackbird, pidgeon, crow, mallard and a heron unusually crouched by the riverbank. Luckily there are still plenty of berries available.

 

 

Station facilities:
There is a little shop at the station selling hot drinks, snacks and G’n’T. I was reliably informed that passengers usually buy it on the way up in the morning!

Don’t believe all the moaning complaints you might find on the inter-you-know-what. The trains are great. Well, we were only delayed 10 minutes homeward bound. I know I am not a commuter but.. take a leaf out of our school girl days (I took a daily return to school for 7 years) and if the train is cancelled don’t go to work, go for a walk instead. Look around you and inhale.

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Silhouette of a beech tree in its winter glory.

Tweed walking: Peebles, Coldstream etc.

I went there to see friends and give Shiatsu. I might go back so if you live there and would like a session let me know. Many thanks to the lovely Chris (designer of my lovely website) and Penny for lunch and chat.

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Melrose Abbey is open all year round. April to September 9.30 – 17.30; October to March 10 – 16.00.

The McInroy and Wood Lecture featured Robert Peston in 2018.

Maronia coastline

This is the coast of Greece found between the cities of Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis, in the East Macedonia and Thrace region.

East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

In late November it is stark and beautiful. The geology is second to none and it boasts secluded beaches and miles of land for walking.

The sun lights up the horizon. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

I was driven there by my wonderful host, a fount of local and fascinating information, Anastasia. She knows the location well and I was lucky to be taken to the best places. Monumental cliffs. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
The island of Samothraki is visible along the length of this coastline. A 2.5 hour ferry trip away from Alexandrouplis, there are men-only monasteries and a fantastic walking route. Further down the coast towards Thessaloniki is the island of Thassos which is made of white marble, the same that was used to build the White House in Washington DC. Samosthraki almost lost in the mists, with fishing boats. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

Beautiful cliffs with the waves lapping. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

 All along this stretch glorious colours can be found: pink, blue, white, bronze, yellow, cream and golden. They simply gleam when the waves wash over or the rain drenches them.

Beautiful cliffs with the waves lapping. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
There is a tricky climb down to this hidden beach. Rosie the dog couldn’t make it. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

There are rock stacks with grassy tufts growing out of them and, where they are surrounded by sea there are birds perched.

East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

Unfortunately there was a recent tragic tale of an English woman, apparently familiar with the area, who was walking alone and got attacked by wild animals. This has made me wary of solo walking the Via Egnatia which passes this way. (The hiking trail begins in Dures, Albania (Dyrrachium in Roman times) and ends in Istanbul (Constantinople) Turkey – a full 1000 kms, 695 miles).

In twos or groups, the trails would be well worth following. You are advised never to run from such a creature, but to stoop to pick up a stone as if to throw because they understand this gesture and will usually leave.

East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
Marmaritsa (little marble) beach, East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

According to the locals, this is the land of the Cyclops from Homer’s tales of Odysseus. There are two caves nearby purporting to be the place where he was captured by the single eyed giant Polyphemus. There is also a River Ulysses (Odysseus’ Roman name).

Roman amphitheatre, East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

There is a newly excavated Roman amphitheatre with white columns which are the same as those on the beach nearby.

A Roman column just poking out onto the beach. Such a wealth of history. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
A medieval wall. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
I spotted several sorts of succulents. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
Olives – November is picking time. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

Each farmer has his own trees marked with name. Once they are producing enough they can sell them to the oil producers.

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The twisted olive trunk – it must be ages old, East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
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Prickly oak and wild olive grow side by side, crouching low to the ground. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
Juniper. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

Much of the higher land consists of slabs of rock rich in oxydated iron and there are quartz crystals under ledges.

With seams of white reaching into the distance. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
And wind blown trees atop crevices of grey and bronze stripes. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
Rocks galore – Stripey and speckled!

There is a wealth of local flora, even at this time of year – wild thyme and lavender, rosemary with purple flowers.

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My private collection.
Detail.

And beachcombing is always a delight.

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A popular place for jumping in from a high place. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
The hounds loved it! East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
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On the way home we saw this little chapel – popular for weddings I was told. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.
Red and white stripes – a sure sign of a hiking trail. East Macedonia and Thrace, Northern Greece.

Walking information:
Via Egnatia, the Roman Road
Lonely Planet
Wikilocs
Wanderlust

Proskynites

November 2018

It is all about the animals here in Proskynites, a small village located in northern Greece, in the Thrace region.

12-15 hens and cockerals

When I arrived the tabby was at home and the mother and all her kittens were at the field

A few days later the same mother, a tabby/white mix with a wonky eye, joined us at the house having made the journey herself (it took me 25 minutes to walk but maybe she knew a short cut!)

The queen, looking as if butter wouldn’t melt, but actually establishing her superiority over the resident female within a very short time

Leaving the rest behind to fight amongst themselves

And look very sweet

Playing among the bales

And always waiting to be fed and given affection

Somehow not as attractive as these turkeys who live by the petrol station

The land of Thrace also lies in Bulgaria to the north and Turkey to the east. The goddess of the same name was daughter of Oceanus and Parthenope, and sister of Europa. There is always a story.

Lea

Rosie and Lea play fighting

Proskynites boasts 2 cafés where you can sit all day drinking tsipouro (a sort of grapa distinct from ouzo by omission of star anise) if you fancy; an equal number of churches; an extremely well kitted out supermarket selling almost everything and with a spotless meat area out back; a community centre; and a bus stop where you can get a lift to Komotini which is the nearest big town (about half an hours ride at 2.30 euros).

Several times a week a gentleman hollers out over the village for 2 and a half hours. It is a Greek orthodox Church

Everywhere I spy saints – icons sitting with their back to the till in the supermarket or stuck up above the steering wheel of the bus.

On 2 floors, the house has a courtyard with a roof for training the vies over providing shade in the summer when temperatures reach the mid 30s

From the top of the steps I can see over the rooftops

A garden for tomatoes and sweetcorn

Here was some afternoon sunshine during my first 2 days and look!

Swarms of Autumn swallows swooping in front of me and once or twice settling on the wires in their hundreds

Our days are mapped out with twice regular visits to the field ( 10 minutes away by jeep) to feed, water and look after the horses, one of whom has a sneezy cough.

Giselle resplendent in her coat and Juli

A very necessary 4-wheel drive

Anyone who loves horses enough to do this is bound for heaven in my opinion, particularly with winds wailing from the Russian plains, temperatures of 4 degrees or torrential rain, the rest of us mere mortals would stay at home.

The dogs taunt the horses something dreadful, causing them to gallop around and kick up their hind legs

Not much further on is an abandoned village. The authorities offered them compensation in the form of land if they would vacate because it was too expensive to run electricity there. So the tale is told.

It is cotton country and at this time of year there are cotton wool balls in the hedgerows, beside the road, in transporter trucks and vestiges still in the fields.

The tracks all look the same unless you learn to identify the different hills surrounding them.

They looked dramatic as the light waned at 5pm

A flock of goats with herder and dogs cause Lea and Rosie great excitement

They took absolutely no notice of me and only came back when they were effectively seen off.

Turn left just before the disused silo

This part of Greece is so close to the border that you can almost see across to Turkey, a non-EU country.

The rain causes the clay to coagulate around our boots

And tyres

Causing it to fly off in chunky lumps when we once more gain the road.

Wild cucumbers – poisonous although made into a tincture and used sparingly the drops are good for sinusitis

Quinces fallen by the roadside.

Wrapped in foil and baked in the oven on top of the wood burner, they were delicious for breakfast.

Several spectacular sunsets before the rain came and then the full moon

Sunset, Proskynites, Greece.

Cycle route through the area

https://www.mapmyride.com/gr/komotini-east-macedonia-and-thrace/proskinites-route-139669967

Zagreb – getting to the airport

My last sunrise in Zagreb

At the stop on Avenija Dubrovnik (some 5 minutes from the apartment) which Google maps recommended, there was a list of buses but it didn’t include an airport one or the numbers mentioned, so I took someone’s advice instead. I took the #6 tram.

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning

More than an hour later, the airport bus did indeed stop right where Google maps said it would, so I am writing this blog to help others to avoid the same waste of time and energy.

You can pick up the airport bus from a number of different places but notably from the Autobusni kolodov (Zagreb bus station). Allow time to find the bay as it is not amongst the other bus stops.

This is the airport bus terminal, tucked behind all the other bays – no signs pointing in this direction, no officials to ask where it is – but it is the part of Zagreb bus station where you get the airport bus.

Not an exciting photo but I took it so that you can orientate yourself ie if you can see this view, you have found or are close to finding the place where the airport bus leaves from!

It goes every half hour on the hour and the half hour, and takes 35 minutes.

Airport bus timetable as of November 2018

Detail: Nice bus driver. On time. Comfy seats. Ticket: 30 kuna, buy on the bus.

Zagreb Airport (another chrome tube! – see previous blogs)

The airport has different names: Zracna luka and Franjo Tudman being 2 of them.

I flew to Thessaloniki (Greece) from Zagreb (Croatia) with Air Serbia – stopping at Belgrade (in Serbia) to change planes.

Zagreb is the quietest, emptiest airport I have ever been to. There were 3 of us going through security. Three!

Waiting for the flight

Although the first plane was tiny and almost full, there was almost no-one on this second one.

Free fish biscuits and a glass of water on both flights

Piet Mondrian – Belgrade has a museum / art gallery. What a brilliant idea

I recommend the cafe below at Belgrade Airport – helpful staff, free WiFi and delicious green tea. It takes euro and local currency.

Zagreb – photo essay

Photos of Zagreb

A blue and yellow theme.

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Bundek / Gradski Park

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Contemplation

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Gradski Park lake – the smart end

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Gradski Park lake – the wilder end

Avenija Dubrovnik and surrounding area

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Graffiti

Spiders webs

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Final walk

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Where I stayed – thanks to LR

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View from the balcony

Zagreb – Cathedral and St Francis Chapel

November 2018

I started my walk as always, at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Avenija Dubrovnik, my favourite indoors attraction. I make a straight line from there, over the motorways and the River Sava (past the statue, the National Library, the concert hall and bus terminal, through the 3 main squares until ever such a slight right to the Cathedral. It takes around an hour and a quarter if you don’t stop too many times to take photos!

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The shute at the Museum of Contemporary Art was open today – a great way to get kids here at an early age. Made by Carsten Höller, it is a piece of cunning engineering and great fun by the looks of it too

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With the sky blue and the sun shining, I could not resist walking into the city. There in the far distance are the Medvenica mountains, possibly even Sljeme, the best known peak and sometime ski station

Zagreb Cathedral is right in front of those hills – I can see it getting bigger as I get nearer but the camera cannot – and it was gleaming white on this, my second last day in the city. I am not sure why I left it until now to see the famous monument.

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The concert hall where Fura dels Baus are playing in December. I saw them in my Cardiff days and would have loved to go again

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The bus terminal and the back of the train station with you know who emblazoned across the lot

It was so warm that I was glad to get to the city square for some shade.

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The Christmas lights were going up round the bandstand built in 1891 (trg Nikole Zrinskog)

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… and the trees ready and waiting

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The last of the leaves curling at the edges made a satisfying shush as I waded through

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It was Sunday afternoon and everyone seemd to be out and enjoying themselves, having picnics and playing hide and seek

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Fontana kralja Tomislava and the elegant buildings around the square

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This four-sided highly attractive meterological weather station shows the temperature and barometric pressure and much more besides. It is in the trg Nikole Zrinskog (north side)

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Before the kids arrived, there was a couple standing there and the man was telling the woman the story of the famous canon, how Zagreb asked for help to protect themselves from Austria and got only the one canon. Strategically they put it at the top of the tallest tower and let it off. It was loud enough to send the invading army away and that is how, he concluded, the city survived. It is fired every day at noon like our own one in Edinburgh Castle (1pm).

Zagreb was first mentioned in 1094 when it was made up of two settlements Kaptol and Gradec.

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Zagreb Cathedral looking very bonny against the azure sky

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I really do not mean to be disrespectful but I have seen these same tiles are in all the best churches. Like pub decorations, maybe there are warehouses where you can get suitable ones wholesale

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Main door, Zagreb Cathedral, recently cleaned and sparkling

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Along the sides are the tallest thinnest windwos I have seen in a Cathedral, but these beauties are above the altar, Zagreb Cathedral

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The tomb of Archbishop Stepinac, ‘place of constant prayer and listening’

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I recognise the Glagolitic script here in the gloomy corner

The Cathedral suffered terribly in the earthquake of 1880 and has been under repair, more or less, ever since.

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The clock stopped just after 7pm.

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The ultimate golden lady. The Holy Mary outside the Cathedral in Zagreb

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Next I crossed the road and entered a passageway finding the St Antun bookstore, photographed through the door as it was closed

The Zagreb coat of arms in brass on the street and in flowers

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Here is Gulliver, beautifully depicted on the wall of Opatovina Park, incongruously lying next to a pile of books, the top one of which is Bridget Jones Diary (not in the photo)

And opposite the entrance to the park is perhaps my favourite of the churches, the quiet chapel of St Francis.

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There he is at the top with the creatures of the earth, chapel of St Francis, Kaptol, Zagreb

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Inside with a beatific smile, chapel of St Francis, Zagreb

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Under a starry ceiling, chapel of St Francis, Zagreb

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and here tending to the fish of the oceans too (bit blurred), Franciscan

It has amazing stained glass, some at least by the Croatian artist Ivo Dulčić whose work was so groundbreaking that it sometimes incurred the wrath of the church authorities of the time. The windows, which he made in 1960, depict scenes from St Francis’ song “Canticle of the Sun”.

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The garden of the Franciscan monastery in the hidden courtyard, Zagreb

I somehow could not find St Mark’s with its famous roof but here is the spire

Then I found all the other) tourists. They were sitting in the cafes with English and German names on the little streets behind the market and jostling to take photos with their phones on sticks.

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There was a statue of a Marija Juric Zagorka with a sun dial behind her and a children’s bench which is a nice idea

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Tourist alley

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I missed the market at Dolac (Zagreb) for the second week running. Here are the empty fish slabs

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Outside a man was looking bored sitting in a mini vehicle hoovering up the rubbish, ‘Kumica Barika’ statue, Dolac, Zagreb

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And another view of the Cathedral, Zagreb

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This gorgeous fresco is on the Catholic church, St Mary at Dolac (stube kralja Ladislava)

Not a little footsore, I set out for Booksa to sit and drink tea and write some.

It was a picturesque end to the day.

There are better photos than mine of the interior of the St Francis chapel here.

There is so much else to see:

The Shrine of the Mother of God of Kamenita vrata (the “Stone Gate”), the patron saint of the city of Zagreb, is a place where people go to pray before a picture of the Virgin Mary which survived a great fire in 1761. The most important day here is the day when Zagreb remembers its patron saint and holds its annual town celebrations, 31 May.

Also, don’t miss the chance to see the south portal of St Mark’s Church in Gornji grad (Zagreb’s “Upper Town”), which dates back to the 15th century and depicts the saints in stone and wood. In the church’s interior you can also see typically powerful works by the great Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.

The two above paragrpahs are from this website on Religious Toursim.

Samobor, Croatia – a walk

A hike from Samobor through Cerje to Okic and part of the way back. November 2018, Croatia. Approx. 20kms.

Samobor is on the eastern slopes of Samoborsko gorje. Situated 20 kms from Zagreb, the journey takes about half an hour and cost 31 kun there (from the ticket office) and 28 kun return (from the driver) .

Samoborsko gorje (Samobor mountains), Croatia

I took the tram to the bus station and then the Samborcek bus to Samobor, a regular service. Platform 610 is in the furthest corner of Zagreb bus station and it is just a matter of going and waiting there. Don’t expect to find anyone official to ask or see any signs – simply look on the ground for the number and trust!

The River Gradna

There is not much of note along the way to this popular summer and weekend destination for those who live in the capital city and tourists.

One of the many bridges across the Gradna Stream, built in 1906

It is a 10 minute walk from the bus station in Samobor to the centre – follow the signs to Centar.

A stall holder at the market in Samobor, Croatia

I visited the market first, walking round initially to see what was on offer, and then choosing certain women for their fresh looking produce.

Seasonal greens and sunshine crysanthemums being sold at the market, Samobor, Croatia

Long tables were punctuated with stallholders wrapped in shawls sitting in front of a handful of spinach, a pile of rosy apples or bunches of parsley. Without a doubt everything was local, seasonal, and had just been picked that morning.

It was very difficult to make myself understood, even with gestures and smiles. I wanted to buy from every one as they all seemed so keen, perhaps had come a long way with a paucity of goods, presumably relied upon sales for their livelihood.

I checked out a bakery kiosk looking for the speciality Fasnik, I had read about. It looked like a custard tart. What I found was yoghurt based and I was unsure if it was the right thing so I waited.

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View of Samobor, Croatia

After a brief visit to the King Tomislav square with it’s cafés, and having failed to find the Tourist Information, I made my way towards a spire on the skyline (I had read a little before I came and had a list of places in my notebook).

The Parish Church of Saint Anastasia (above and below), Samobor, Croatia.

From there I followed my nose, as they say, climbing through the woods. It was the lure of the red and white circles I think, reminding me of previous treks.

Past the municipal cemetery, Samobor, Croatia

It was really misty although at ground level the leaves glowed all the same.

Tepec Hill, Samobor, Croatia

St Anne’s (patron Saint of Samobor) Chapel, Samobor, Croatia

As I stepped up from one Station of the Cross to another I relished the fresh smell and feel of the soft earth beneath my feet.

A pavillion in the woods, Samobor, Croatia

Here is St George fighting his dragon again (see Zagreb 9).

Stations of ther Cross in the oak forest, Samobor, Croatia

More red and white waymarkers, Samobor, Croatia

St George’s Chapel , Samobor, Croatia

The second Chapel (St George’s) was plainer and round the back was a young dog who barked at me. The man with him had made a beautiful yet simple sculpture of stones and sticks which complemented the architecture and natural surroundings.

I started spying an array of fungi taking me back to the Via Sacra last Autumn in Austria.

Chestnut and beech foliage now

The Anindol Pyramid

There is probably a magnificent view from up there but my tummy turned over at the thought of it and as there was zero visibility I didn’t feel too bad.

In fact the sun was beginning to stream between the trees as I got higher and it was warm on my cheek. It was breathtaking. I couldn’t help myself going on and on.

I stopped to admire the dew laden spiders webs and I smiled

Suddenly I was on a road and soon a sign indicating the village of Cerje. I was still going steeply uphill but the red and white waymarkers continued to draw me.

Vines, laden orchards and layers of red rooves

A wayside shrine

People were working on the land and apples littered the path which I juicily enjoyed. I skipped from side to side where there was a pavement, to be safe on the tight bends.

I knelt to capture wild flowers with my phone camera and, as I relaxed into my stride thoughts pestered me

Note to self: learn legilimency (as J K called it) to develop the ability to push out the unhelpful memories and worries, once acknowledged!

High up now I could see down to the valley and had to choose between there and uphill. I chose the latter

I spent time at a bus stop because I knew I was on a one-way walk and that the daylight of course ends at 5pm here in November. I photographed the timetable and carried on, confident I would get back to Samobor that way (a bus had passed me earlier).

The homesteads were strung out and I began to wonder if I might actually turn back if the trail was going to continue on asphalt.

 

Caffe Bar ´Uzbuna´

A sign to a café with a stunning view didn’t yield the desired result: open from 5pm, presumably because it is dark by then and there needs to be somewhere to meet up during the long evenings.

Feast your eyes

Barking dogs and basking cats; turkeys with red gizzards huddling

Autumn squash to last the winter

Horreos full of sweetcorn, first seen in Spain but because those ones are stone you cannot see what’s inside.

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A Galician north west Spain) winter storeage unit.

Hay packed up to the rafters. Literally

The bridge was down across this stream so I took a great leap (across a narrower part!)

Through woods where I lost the signs more than once

I had to retrace my steps sometimes because the way is generally so well marked that as soon as 10 minutes passed without a sign I knew I was wrong.

Still new green ferns, even at this time of the year

There were lots of trees down blocking the way, but walkers or cyclists had been there before me if I looked carefully.

 

It was downhill at times at this stage and tantalising signs to Okic, which when I looked on Googlemaps said it was a tourist attraction.

As I neared, worrying a bit about the time, I wondered if it would be worth it.

 

It was: Okić, a Medieval town perched on top of an isolated hill south of Samobor is mentioned in 1193

Another magical vista

I didn´t let myself stay long (although long enough to admire the woman with the chain saw) and her produce. I rather rushed up the hill, despite my tiredness, and almost immediately lost my path. What made me plough on regardless I do not know, but I ended up in one of my fixes – very steep, knee deep in nettles, several dead ends and my head started to popund. In the end I went over a fence into someone´s garden and out through their front gate, only to hear a loud noise behind me – a bus. I was not at all sure where I was but I flagged down the bus and begged and, yes, he was on his way to Samobor.

wp-1541705606261..jpgSlowly I calmed down, somewhat embarrassed , and my head stopped throbbing. I was all but out of water. Up and down and round he drove at top speed, letting people off, driving round the village square and going back the way he had come through pretty places with shops, bars and attractive churches.

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Blurred as I took it through the coach window

Until we arrived back where I had started at the bus station in Samobor. I could not quite face a traipse back into the town, so instead I drank my green tea in the station cafe (full of smokers, so I sat outside) where the waitress the age of my daughters spoke customarily wonderful English and refilled my bottle adding ice. I marvelled at the table tennis room, the pop-up cinema and creche, all making up the modern station complex (free, clean loos as well!)

There more to see if you visit: a museum, a cave and a castle for example.

Lonely Planet on Zagreb

15 things to do in and around Zagreb

Bus timetables

King T Square

Visit Samobor – great site which even had a donkey on the front page (my patron saint – what does that say about me?

Have you visted Croatia? Leave a comment below with your favourite places if you like – I would love to hear from you.

Zagreb 9 – National Library and Croatian Language

November 2018

It was a misty morning when I set out to walk into the city of Zagreb.

Across the River Sava, Zagreb, Croatia

Standing between busy main roads named after him is the portly figure of Većeslav Holjevac who was a Croatian and Yugoslan soldier and communist politician. Zagreb, Croatia.

Holjevac was born in Karlovac, at the time, in Austria-Hungary. He joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1939.

On the way into town I go past the National and University Libraries. Zagreb, Croatia.

Up until now they have been shut (holiday, weekend etc) and yesterday was no exception for the one on the left. The brusque security guards reluctantly let me use the toilets, but although there were lots of people there they wouldn’t let me in.

The National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

The other one, however was all a bustle putting up the new foyer exhibition on the development of Croatian language: Hrvatska (Croatian) glagoljica (Glagolitic).

The development of Croatian language exhibition, National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

The development of Croatian language exhibition, National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

Definitely still has a communist air doesn’t it!

St George, patron saint of England, who I have found all around Zagreb. Here he is part of the development of Croatian language exhibition, National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

This is an exhibition which aims to to keep alive and use the ancient Glagolitic alphabet.

Such elevated status of Angular Glagolitic rests on the hardworking hands of stonemasons, weary eyes of scribes, zeal of Glagolitic priests, skills of Croatia’s oldest master printers, dedication of researchers, and the creativity and vision of enthusiastic individuals working in the creative industries. From the website

Giant examples of the script at The development of Croatian language exhibition, National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

The development of Croatian language exhibition, National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

They were turning over the pages of this huge book while a man (and I) took photos. National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

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The shop wasn’t open but I could see packets of biscuits in the shape of letters ready to be sold! National Library, Zagreb, Croatia.

Afterwards I saw symbols and signs everywhere! Diagrams, basicallym which we learn to interpret as concepts, instructions and indications.

Zagreb 8 – architecture, music, graffiti, public toilets and heated tram seats

The Music Academy Zagreb (trg Republike Hrvatska (Croatia)). I am not sure how it got planning permission to go up where it is, cheek by jowl with all the old monuments, but there is something impressivly multi-coloured about it. Zagreb, Croatia.

Near where I am staying there are a series of underpasses which take you from one side of Avenija Dubrovnik to the other and, half way between, to the tram stops. I go there for the graffiti…

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Graffiti, Zagreb, Croatia.

…and I am always hoping to hear more busking like the violinist who was there a few days ago. It may have come from the symphony by Dora Pejačević (10 September 1885 – 5 March 1923) who was a Croatian composer, a member of a noble family. Her Symphony in F-sharp minor is considered by scholars to be the first modern symphony in Croatian music.

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The guitarist who plays folk music regularly in the underpass

Christmas shop window, Zagreb, Croatia.

Nearly Xmas. Phew! I thought I might miss out on reindeer shop displays if I was away from home, but no.

The bus station is on the east side. Autobusni Kolodvor (station), .

There is a handy pastry and bread stall immediately outside for breakfast if you have been on the all-night bus from Milan like I had. It is just by the tram stop. Thanks to Léa for treating me.

Public toilets, Zagreb, Croatia.

Public toilets are open, lit up at night and come in a nice shade of green (which would make my friend L happy).

Winnie the Pooh in Croatian, sold at Booksa.

Trams have handy places to put your bag, meaning it doesn’t have to go on the floor and get wet, or if it already has a soggy bottom, on your lap!

Tickets 4 kun from tabacco kiosks which you can find on many street corners (though lots are shut on Sundays).

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And they might look like basic plastic red and yellow seats but they are heated! Zagreb, Croatia.

A blue tram whizzes through the main square in the rain one evening. Zagreb, Croatia.

Brits: Look left when you cross the road! Although there are lots of one way streets – basically beware. I had a very close shave when a most apologetic driver ran over my left foot. Lucky I had my heavy duty walking boots on.

Opposite the Botanic Gardens is what I call the owl building. It has oxydised green owls at roof height, symbol of wisdom. That’s them above, on the top right and left corners.

It is the Croatian State Archives and the weather was too bad to get a proper shot of them from the back.

Croatian State Archives

Trams Zagreb

Graffiti Zagreb

Zagreb 6 – Museum of Arts and Crafts

Tuesday 5 November 2018 – Bonfire Night

Tuesday´s treat was the Museum of Arts and Crafts (open until 7pm most days except Sundays 10am-2pm). It is a veritable treasure store.

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A whole room of clocks which chime on and off, and sometimes altogether, in a variety of dulcet tones – beautiful. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

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One of bells – not seen that before. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

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Glass, including stained and a lovely Chinese teapot. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

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In fact, all manner of photographs, paintings, furniture, loads of fans (the sort which are fluttered by ladies in theatres), mahogany doors, lacy iron gates … (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

Cabinet of mixed artefacts, Museum of Arts and Crafts. (Zagreb, Croatia)

A great section heading where I was glad to find my old chum, Saint James. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

Patron Saint of the Camino and walking in Spain, known in Croatia as Jakov. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

Although somewhat unconnected, the ceiling in the furniture section looks stunning. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

On the ground floor is the New Croatian Designers exhibition. To be honest I just thought these t-shirts and their shadows would make a good photo. ((Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

But I was genuinely tickled by the inside out-ness of these table legs. Something Paddington Bear might have done, no? (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

 

In the basement are the winners of an International Photography Exhibition. This one, by Jorie Horsthuis, is about translators at the War Crimes Court in The Hague which I found really moving. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

And this, entitled Scripta Manent, which the sign says ‘allows us to look at the women from the historical country of Medea. Iron Curtain, independence, war and cold. Disconnected from electricity.’ It highlights the lot of the women who have paid vast sums to relocate to get a job, leaving their children and families behind in Greece. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

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I really liked this candelabra. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

This is the front door of the Ladies Toilet, looking inside. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

The interior main hallway of the Museum of Arts and Crafts reminds me of that at the Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. (Zagreb, Croatia)

The courtyard with its ivy clad walls looks like a nice summer spot for a sit-down. (Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb, Croatia)

The Arts and Crafts Museum from the outside. (Zagreb, Croatia)