The Five Star Vagabond

Super travel tips, all road tested by David Herd. I'm an Australian guy who moved to Thailand in 2011 & still travel the world as often as possible.

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

March 25, 2015 by David Herd

One of my greatest trips.

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey plus London was a hectic 4 week trip to a number of cities I had never visited before. First stop was Istanbul on February 25 2015 then on to London for a few days before flying to Zagreb in Croatia. A 3 hour bus trip took me to Split on the coast for a couple of days followed by 5 hours on the bus down the coast to Dubrovnik.

From Dubrovnik I traveled to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina then onto Sarajevo. Finally back to Zagreb for one night before a horror train journey to Budapest due to construction work on the railroad.

A stand out feature of this trip was my selection of hotels and apartments, everyone of them was in a perfect location with a very reasonable price when booked through Agoda,

Istanbul The Blue Mosque

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

 It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is still popularly used as a mosque.

I stayed at the Hotel Spectra right next door to the Blue Mosque, it was in a great location and very good value if you book through Agoda.

Singing for the crowd

Fascinating Istanbul Asia Meets Europe

There were quite a few buskers around the city.

Istanbul slideshow

Second stop London

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

St Pauls Cathredal  The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years.

Enoteca da Luca

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Very close to St Pauls is this delightful Italian restaurant, put it on your list, it’s a breath of fresh air in a city not known for its fine food. 🙂

The Villa Kensington 10-11 Ashburn Gardens SW7  This excellent budget hotel is in a great location, only 2 blocks from Gloucester Road underground and surrounded by dozens of good restaurants. I booked through Agoda as usual and stayed in a newly renovated room for only 50 Quid or $98 usd including breakfast.

The Walkie Talkie and The Gherkin

London blue sky cold winter wind

Plus of course we have the Tower of London in the foreground.

London slideshow

Third stop Zagreb

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

My hotel the Dubrovnik, looked over Zagreb’s Main Square, the perfect location for exploring this interesting city.

The Corner Bar

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

  This hidden away little bar was a gem, drinks, snacks of simply good coffee.  

Zagreb Cathredal

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

The cathedral towers over the city.

Zagreb slideshow

 

Next stop Split

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

A three hour bus ride through the mountains to the coastal city of Split. My two bedroom apartment was terrific, only $60 per night in a perfect location. Book it through Agoda for this great rate.

Part of the old city

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  There seemed to be a surprise around every corner wandering through the old part of the city.  

The Prokurative

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

The square has long been established as an excellent stage for cultural events, especially the pop music festival, and the local bars and restaurants made it a popular venue for the citizens of Split.

Split slideshow  

Beautiful Dubrovnik

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

  I was so pleased I was here in the “off season” as the crowds of tourists in the summer would be a real turn off.  

Amazing city walls

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

You can walk around the entire city on top of the ancient walls, it takes about 1.5 hours and is well worth the effort. If you visit Dubrovnik and want a fantastic apartment look no further than Karmen apartments.  The location is perfect and the price is very reasonable indeed. Marc the owner is very helpful and a hive of information. Staying here is like staying in your own home, the furniture, atmosphere and comfort is simply fantastic.

Outside the walls

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

You can see why some scenes from Game of Thrones was filmed here.

Dubrovnik slideshow

Great Dubrovnik video clip

Mostar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

  Bosnia was never part of my original plans until a couple of people suggested I should go as it was so close to where I was in Dubrovnik. I’m pleased I took their advice as Mostar turned out to be a real surprise packet. The Old Bridge was the jewel in the crown, it was destroyed in the war around 1993 and rebuilt.  

Opposite the Bella Vista restaurant

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

This reminded me of a mini version of Table mountain in Cape Town, in fact it was exactly one year ago when I was there.  My hotel by the river is in a terrific location and the nice couple Arnela & Adis running the hotel booked me a car to do a 3 hour tour of the area for $70 aud. The funny thing was they said “we are not busy today can we come with you?” So as it turned out I had 3 personal translators and tour guides including Admir the driver. The Vila park only costs about $35 per night if you book through Agoda.

Adis, Arnela & Admir

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Admir is a great taxi driver who will charge you the correct price, he speaks German & the local language but only a little English. You can phone him on +387 62 600 260, or if you are local 062 600 260.

Mostar slideshow

Next stop Sarajevo

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Another bus trip, unusual for me when travelling to take so many buses, however you certainly see a lot more of the country. These guys gather every day to play chess in the square, lots of shouting from the spectators as they give advice to the players.

Avaz Twist Tower

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

  The tallest building in Sarajevo, they have a lookout on the top floor which gives you a great view of the city.   My hotel in Sarajevo was in a perfect location with a good price, even though the rooms & breakfast were average I would stay at the Kovaci Hotel again.

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

I bought a nice leather bag for only $15.

Sarajevo slideshow

  

 

The final stop Budapest

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

What a fabulous city, so many photo opportunities particularly at night with all the lights. Buda Castle above is a beautiful example.

Hungarian Parliament

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

For a reasonably priced hotel in the perfect location book the Promenade City hotel through this Agoda link.  

Buda Castle

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

What a super city Budapest was.

Budapest slideshow

Thanks for visiting my Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey post, come back any time.

Unforgettable Eastern European Odyssey

Farewell.

                       

Here are some more posts to check out 

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 497d0b6e-c0bd-4ba2-86be-c02100f050a8        65470622-d17a-4b90-bf97-2574df4c412d        1a2160c1-41f7-465a-954c-631e083eb229
          Tokyo                        Rio De Janeiro                        Budapest
f59e958e-8eaf-48b4-8e96-c291a0c13d1a        f044491e-69aa-4082-b49b-1ff33557d7d4        a6a948cd-f30a-49ea-a905-82be4d202cc9
           London                            Beijing                            Capetown
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            Great hotel room rates anywhere in the world if you            
 book through these links below.  Book now & pay later.
                                                                 Plus free cancellation .
                                               Bangkok Hotels                    Pattaya Hotels
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Pattaya live webcam
 
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That’s all folks

1g Duck

 

 

Budapest beautiful river Danube bridges

First stop Istanbul

 

I have never seen a city with so many markets, bazaars & mosques, over 3000 Mosques here and 83,000 in the country. http://fivestarvagabond.com/istanbul-cultures-nations-religions/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Saturday, February 28, 2015

Second stop London

 

Some of London’s amazing ultra modern buildings.

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Third stop Zagreb

 

Check out my post on Zagreb, an interesting city in Croatia.http://fivestarvagabond.com/zagreb-croatia-bars-restaurants/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fourth stop Split

 

I hope you enjoy my post on Split a delightful Croatian coastal city, I’m taking a 4’5 hour bus trip to Dubrovnik tomorrow. http://fivestarvagabond.com/split-croatian-coastal-city/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fifth stop Dubrovnik

 

Dubrovnik is a magic city, check out my travel blog for lots more great photos. http://fivestarvagabond.com/dubrovnik-medieval-croatian-city/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sixth stop Mostar

 

Mostar was really a surprise package, I’m so glad I made a late decision to visit Bosnia. Check out my travel blog here. http://fivestarvagabond.com/mostar-bosnia-herzegovina/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seventh stop Sarajevo

 

Bosnia commemorated 100 years since the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28 last…

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Friday, March 20, 2015

Eight stop Budapest

 

Budapest was united from three cities in 1873 and seven years later the Diet resolved to establish a new, representative…

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Monday, March 23, 2015

This gallery contains 1 photo.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

March 12, 2015 by David Herd

The Pile gate to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city, first impression certainly lived up to it’s reputation. It’s no wonder it is one of the most popular European destinations. This is the 3rd Croatian city I have visited starting with Zagreb then onto Split before taking a 5 hour bus trip down the coast to Dubrovnik.

Neum in Bosnia

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Just north of Dubrovnik you have to cross the Bosnian border at Neum. They check your passport going in and going out.

Just inside the Pile Gate

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Here is the first thing you see when you enter the city through the Pile Gate.

Lots of bars and restaurants

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

There is a big choice of places to eat and drink in Dubrovnik, being the low season they are all screaming for customers.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city has amazing stone walls.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

I walked right around the entire city on top of the walls which costs about $20 and is well worth it. It really gives you a sense of this majestic city.  Dubrovnik’s Old Town is completely surrounded by enormous stone walls that date back to the 10th century. Up to 6m (19ft) thick and 2.5m (8ft) high in places, Dubrovnik’s Ancient City Walls were built to protect the city and deter would-be invaders. You can walk along the entire (2km/1.2mi) length of the ancient walls today and it is one of the best ways to appreciate the majesty of the Old Town plus get some great views over the Adriatic sea. There are 2 towers and 2 forts incorporated into the walls that were built and strengthened in the 15th century to bolster the city’s defenses. The Minceta Tower protects the city’s northern edge; the Bokar Tower protects Pile Gate (the city’s main entrance); Lovrjenac Fort protects the west, and the Revelin Fort protects the eastern entrance.

The harbour

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

  The walk started at the harbor end of the city an continued anti-clockwise taking about 90 minutes to finish.

The narrow walk way on top of the wall

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

This is a great way to explore Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Many wonderful views from the top of the wall.

Dubrovnik, a red roof city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

This fabulous Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city is totally unique.

Minceta Tower

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

The rounded Minceta Tower where the walls are 6m thick, the better to protect Dubrovnik from attacks by land.

Minceta Tower

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

The tower was built in 1464 and was once used to store water. It was named after the Mencetic family who probably contributed financial support to its construction.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

I would have to say Dubrovnik is one of the best cities I have ever visited.

Sunbathing

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

She found a nice spot out out of the wind and started working on her tan. Trust me the wind was quite cold that day. 🙂

Marin Držić

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Marin Držić  also Marino Darza or Marino Darsa; 1508 – 2 May 1567 is considered the finest Croatian Renaissance playwright and prose writer.

Clock Tower Luza Square

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Dating from 15th century The clock tower overlooks Orlando’s Column and Sveti Vlaho Church.

Dubrovnik harbor at dusk

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

A great time of the day to take photos, the blue sky seems to highlight the shot.

Orlando’s Column

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

The knight carved in the column is Orlando. According legend in the 9th century Orlando and his fleet saved Dubrovnik from a 15 month long Saracen siege.

Fantastic Dubrovnik walls

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Make sure you put this city on your bucket list.

Great tune filmed in Dubrovnik.

  Karmen fabulous 2 br apartment

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

If you visit Dubrovnik and want a fantastic apartment look no further than Karmen apartments. 

For a very good discount just book through THIS LINK.

View from the 2 bedroom Karmen apartment

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The location is perfect and the price is very reasonable indeed. Marc the owner is very helpful and a hive of information. Staying here is like staying in your own home, the furniture, atmosphere and comfort is simply fantastic.

Marc van Bloemen owner of Karmen apartments

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian cityMarc is a friendly Englishman who will point you in the right direction for restaurants and has a great knowledge of Dubrovniks history. Dubrovnik was significantly affected by the break-up of Yugoslavia. In the early 90s, Greater Serb aggression resulted in Dubrovnik suffering its most serious existential threat. Over two thirds of the historic town’s buildings were hit by artillery. The town’s cobbled streets were struck by hundreds of direct hits. For the first time in history, the medieval city walls themselves received over a hundred direct hits. Many historic palaces were badly damaged by the resulting fires. The renowned Sponza and Rector’s palace, St Blaise’s church, the Franciscan monastery and the Amerling and Onofrio fountain all suffered severely. The total reconstruction cost was said to be some $ 10 million.

The soldiers come to town for a movie.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Shooting a movie can be very tiring so naturally a soldier needs to relax in the shade. 🙂

Breathtaking Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

I took the cable car to the mountain top and saw this wonderful view of Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

The city looks rather small from the top of the hill.

From the cable car above Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Snow capped mountains in the distance.

Only the lonely

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Let’s hope his girl finally turns up. 🙂

Black Risotto at an Irish pub

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Thankfully it tasted better than it looked. 🙂

Azur restaurant

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

This is certainly the best restaurant I found in Dubrovnik, a little hard to find but well worth the effort.

Azur Wonton soup

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

In fact I went here 2 nights in a row. 🙂

Lots of very narrow steps.

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

It’s hard work getting up these steps.

Wonderful city

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Here is the first of two photos I found online.

Here is the 2nd one

Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city

Both these shots are rather stunning.

A fitting end by 2CELLOS.

 
Thanks for visiting my Dubrovnik medieval Croatian city photo blog.
 

  Here are some more posts to check out 

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          Tokyo                        Rio De Janeiro                        Budapest
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           London                            Beijing                            Capetown
2246c6cf-5fa6-4fbe-ac30-b569253ad2a6        f65d714b-f44c-4b2e-9505-3511ebecbb80        4e82052a-24d0-41e1-ab84-10e8f27634d1
 
            Great hotel room rates anywhere in the world if you            
 book through these links below.  Book now & pay later.
                                                                 Plus free cancellation .
                                               Bangkok Hotels                    Pattaya Hotels
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Slide show here.

Pattaya live webcam
 
9a1fec74-4461-46cd-8663-97f5893c8f6e (1)

That’s all folks

1g Duck

 
 

Check out my post on Zagreb

 

Before you go please have a look at my post on Split

 

Here is a short video from the cable car.

Here is a promo video on Dubrovnik featuring Marc from Karmen apartments.

This gallery contains 6 photos

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

March 10, 2015 by David Herd

Split is ancient & modern

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city impressed me from my first glimpse, even more impressed when I got to my apartment. Two bedrooms and a good kitchen in a great location for $70 aud per night. Also the landlord Neven, could not be more helpful.

Harbourside Boulevard

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

A beautiful boulevard with no traffic,

Spectacular at dusk

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Lots of cafes & restaurants to relax & watch the passing parade.

No cars in the middle of town.

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

This nice street leads to my apartment.

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city sunset

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  My favorite time of the day and a great time to take photos.  

Cathedral of Saint Domnius

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

    The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD, is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. 

Cathedral of Saint Domnius

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

The structure itself, built in AD 305 as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, is the second oldest structure used by any Christian Cathedral.  

Cathedral of Saint Domnius

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD, is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure.

Bokeria restaurant

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  Rated 25 from 219 restaurants by TripAdvisor.  

Bokeria restaurant

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  I ordered Ribs and potato salad and I must say they were the best ribs I have had in many years.  

Inside the Golden Gate

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

The northern gate of the Palace (called the Golden Gate) had been conceived as the main entrance to the Palace and so it had been elaborately decorated with statues of the Emperor Diocletian and his co-regent Maximilian.  

The Golden Gate

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

Emperor Diocletian walked through them as he entered the Palace on the 1st of June 305. They were built in the shape of a rectangle, with double doors, as part of the defensive military tactics (propugnaculum).

The facade was decorated with niches containing figure sculptures of the four tetrarchs (Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Constantius Chlorus). Wikipedia.

Croatian National Theatre

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

Originally opened in 1893, the theatre is owned and operated by the City of Split and is one of the oldest surviving theatres in Dalmatia.

The Prokurative

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  Prokurative, or officially the Republic Square, the famed Mediterranean Square in the center of the city.  

Marmont Hotel

Snap 2017-06-16 at 11.05.33

Enjoy some luxury in a great location, for a discount book with THIS LINK.

Coffee by the harbour

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

A perfect place for a morning coffee before exploring Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city.

Model of the city

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  This model of the city gives you a very good idea of the layout.  

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

 Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

One of the many stunning ancient alleys.

My apartment, a great location

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  Called the Apartments Marmont it is the yellow building on the left. Two bedrooms and a good kitchen in a great location for $70 aud per night. The friendly landlord Neven could not be more helpful. Book it through Agoda as I do for a terrific rate.  

My apartment is on the first floor.

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

The location is perfect just a short walk to all the shops and attractions.

View from my apartment

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

From my balcony you look down on some of the cafes and restaurants. 

Street art

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

One man’s street art is another man’s graffiti. 🙂

Morning coffee and a cigarette

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

  My biggest and only complaint in Croatia is they smoke everywhere, worst of all inside restaurants.

 “No Stress” cafe

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I love the name of this cafe, it really sums up my main goal in life.

Best breakfast

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Easily the best breakfast I have had in Croatia, very good food, service and coffee.

Croatian Cevapcici

Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city

One of my favorite European dishes.

Fresh seafood

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Early morning and the market is buzzing.

How European is this?

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It has to be a quintessential European snapshot.

Overlooking the harbor

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I hope you enjoyed my post on Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city, I’m taking a 4’5 hour bus trip to Dubrovnik tomorrow.

Split is a very nice city, put it on your bucket list.

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                      Thanks for visiting my Split Ancient Croatian Coastal city photo blog.    
 
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               Great hotel room rates anywhere in the world if you book
                  through these links below.  Book now & pay later.
Free Cancellation. 
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 That’s all folks

1g Duck

 

Pattaya live webcam
9a1fec74-4461-46cd-8663-97f5893c8f6e (1)
 

  Before you leave have a look at my Zagreb post

 

Have a look at Dubrovnik

 

Dubrovnik is a magic city, check out my travel blog for lots more great photos. http://fivestarvagabond.com/dubrovnik-medieval-croatian-city/

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Here is the entire trip

 

A stand out feature of this trip was my selection of hotels and apartments, everyone of them was in a perfect location…

Posted by Travel blogger Fivestarvagabond.com” on Thursday, March 26, 2015

This gallery contains 1 photo.