Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Central European Travel Adventures

This month my Color Blog is all about the sights and colors of Central Europe. My husband and I just returned from a three-week motorcycle trip through Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. Naturally, my mind and imagination are filled with vivid images and my heart is full of passion for the places we visited, the natural beauty, architecture and art we saw, and of course, all the amazing people we encountered.

The weather was almost perfect with only one day of rain. The terrain varied from mountains to foothills; from the Adriatic sea to teal-colored mountain lakes with stunning waterfalls; from medieval walled seaside villages to the vastness of the rolling countryside near the Bosnian border; from lush, green hills with evergreen trees to sandy barren landscapes with olive and fig trees. It was all spectacular and memorable. Seeing the varied architecture, the quaint villages and medieval walled cities, and the people working in their gardens with rustic implements preserved from another era often gave us a sense of timelessness.

I want to share just some of my photos and impressions with you – though anyone who knows me, understands it was definitely a challenge to narrow it down to these few!

Plitvice Lakes National Park

This is a beautiful park with 13 interconnected lakes, punctuated with waterfalls between each lake. The color was the teal blue/green often seen in mountain lakes. It reminded us of our beloved Minnesota Boundary Waters Canoe Area – and we felt at home…with a difference.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Most of the waterfalls rushed over green vegetation, including ferns, moss or trees and some and logs and rock formations.

Near the Bosnian border 

We saw constant reminders of the 1995 warfare. It was startling to see that the exteriors of many homes in this area still bore the scars of bullet holes.

Near Klagenfurt

We began and ended our tour in this city. We spent our first day bicycling around part of this lake, watching sailboats and Harley motorcycle riders. Harley is the best selling bike in Europe. All motorcyclists and scooter operators are required to wear helmets. Motorcycling is a great way for Europeans to travel between their countries. With fuel costs of $10 per kilo it is the economical way to go. We spoke with Italians, Spaniards, and Germans who enjoy this low-cost method of traveling as much as we do. 


The mountains here were snow capped and that kept us from riding through the passes but it was fantastic to see their beauty all around us. 


The countryside is very lush with lots of shades of green, from the spring green grass to the forested hills thick with the deep color of the evergreens. 

BMW was the preferred motorcycle for our tour and we totally enjoyed traveling on this spacious bike. 


Isn't this fun and colorful? Pairing yellow with grey is such a popular combination now. I was constantly on the lookout for the perfect troll to bring home to my garden in Minneapolis!


This photo is from our first day in Austria. We saw several churches and fortresses on hills along the way. So picturesque. There was always something new to capture our attention on the road.

Opatija, Croatia
On the Adriatic Sea 

The coastal area of Croatia is very hot. It is covered with rocky beaches and quaint little fishing villages. We experienced this sunset from our hotel room, which was in a very old coastal city once ruled by the Hapsburgs. The houses and mansions here are very grand, their ornate decorations reminiscent of an older, more elegant time.

Rovinj, Croatia
Walled coastal town

We traveled by motorcycle across the peninsula of northern Croatia to this walled medieval village on the opposite coast. The streets in the central area and harbor are walking only -  which really makes the pace of life seem much slower and more calmly measured. 

Coastal towns

This was our view on the way to the islands of Croatia. There are many picturesque villages all along the Adriatic sea.

Goats in the hills

As we were leaving the coast and heading into the foothills and mountains it became a common occurrence to encounter livestock on the single laned roads. Cars constantly had to pull over to allow other cars to pass. We saw many older women out working in their gardens wearing their traditional black outfits with aprons and babushkas. 

Otocec, Slovenia

On our last day of traveling I admired the quaintness and open landscaping of this area. 

It was sad to leave these beautiful and very interesting Central European countries!  We hope to return to these areas again one day and explore them further.

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