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Day 1: Arrive in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Welcome to Croatia! Upon arrival in Croatia, you will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Overnight in Mlini (outside of Dubrovnik).
Day 2: Dubrovnik Sightseeing and Freetime in the City
This morning we visit the fabled city of Dubrovnik. Its motto is"Libertas" (liberty), because for several centuries the city-state of Dubrovnik(the so-called Ragusa) managed to preserve its independence while the coastfell under the sway of foreign powers. At its 16th-century height,the Republic had the third largest merchant fleet in the world. Only a few will notice any remaining signs of the 1991-1992 siege, during which over 2000 enemy shells fell on the old city. Reconstruction was undertaken with astonishing speed and the old town again resembles its former self.
Day 3: Montenegro: Sightseeing in Kotor. Panoramic Drive Around: Kotor Fjord, Mt. Lovcen, Rijeka Crnejovica, Lake Skodra, Sveti Stephan Island
In the morning we cross the border to Kotor - a beautiful coastal town tucked in the embrace of high mountains, bent over a deep bay (southern most fjord of Europe!) of the Mediterranean sea. The beauty of Kotor Bay has been praised many times in verse. We drive to the mountains above the fjord, visit Mt. Lovcen National Park's highest peak, to look at one of the most heart-breaking and magnificent landscapes of all Europe. Kotor Bay is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After our climb we descend to the majestic Rijeka Crnojevica river-gorge for another breathtaking scene and then we continue our scenic drive to Lake Skodra. The high craggy peaks of the lake shore make this landscape unforgettable, especially on rainy days, when mirriads of color reflect on the lake. We continue our visit in Montenegro on the coast where we stop for a view of Sveti Stefan Island, one of the most lovely seaside resorts of the Adriatic, connected with a bridge to the mainland. After a long and busy day in Montenegro, one of the hidden pearls of the Adriatic and the smallest State of the former Yugoslavia, we will return to CroatiaOvernight in Mlini (outsideDubrovnik).
Day 4: Hike on Lokrum Island, Trsteno Plane Trees, Ston. Bosnia: Hutovo Blato
This morning we will travel by local ferry to Lokrum Island NatureReserve. One of the many Adriatic islands along the coast, it lies about 700 meters from the mainland. The island is covered with laurel, oak, pine and cypress trees as well as olives, agaves, cacti, magnolia and palms. In 1959 a Botanical Garden was founded and there is a small salt lake. Our walk takes us past a deserted Benedictine monastery founded in 1023 and we can climb to the fortress lookout tower for a spectacular view of the old city of Dubrovnik. After lunch we say good-bye to the Island's resident peacocks, we take the 30 minute ferry ride to Dubrovnik.
Day 5: Sarajevo
Driving through mountainous central Bosnia-Herzegovina to the capital, Sarajevo, we find one of the most Oriental cities in Europe. Here, amongst the minarets and the Bašèaršija market, we can find the true "turkish" coffee. Our tour will show us the city's multicultural religions, cultural make up and the hope of the city in it's post war energy and rebuilding.
Day 6: Bosnia: Mostar Sightseein, Kravica Waterfalls
This morning we are heading to see the magnificent city of Mostar, the unofficial capital of Herzegovina, in southern region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The old town is entered through its famous stone arch, "Stari Most", a bridge binding two banks of the emerald Neretva river. This is a city of poetry, a city of stone, city of sleepy, narrow, winding streets, and a city of heroism. Here we will visit the Old Bridge, a Turkish house, and a mosque, getting known with the cities muslim heritage. After lunch in Mostar we heading to see Kravica Falls, one of the most impressive falls of the country, and returning to Mostar for some freetime. Overnight in Mostar.
Day 7: Croatia: Imotski sinkholes, Split Sightseeing, Free Time in Trogir
After breakfast we continue back on to Croatia, stopping en route at the two rarely visited, enormous sinkholes of Imotski, with deep lakes on their bottoms. Both of these lakes were created by water erosion of the under ground channels and caves. Earthquakes have further contributed to the current shapes,even though the region is not tectonically active.
Day 8: Boat Cruise to Visovac Island, Krka Falls, Torak Spring
This morning, we take a 1-hour boat trip on the Krka River to Visovac Island, for a short-guided tour of the Franciscan Monastery. After our return boat trip, we walk in the National Park to see hundreds of beautiful small waterfalls, deep in the river gorge. The area was declared to be a National Park in 1985, primarily for its several rapids and cascades, also preserving one of the most valuable freshwater ecosystems of the country. A short walkthrough the countryside brings us to our picnic location at the top of a 100 meter (656 foot) cliff overlooking the stunning valley with emerald green Torak Spring at the bottom of the canyon.
Day 9: Sibenik, Zadar
We drive shortly to Sibenik this morning, where we explore the sights including the Gothic Renaissance St Jacob's Cathedral, which is on the UNESCO World heritage list, and the citadel on a top of a cliff. Later we have a picnic at the fresh-water lake of Vrana, situated only 2 kilometers from the coast. Lake Vrana is an important ornithological refuge, with several protected bird species. After we drive tot he city of Zadar, where we will have a guided tour of this historical city. The Roman forum is well preserved and the Venetian walls still stand, as doancient Croatian churches, monasteries and palaces. Zadar has always been out-ward looking and has shared agriculture, shipbuilding, shipping and trade with people of the Mediterranean. Overnight in Starigrad Paklenica.
Day 10: Paklenica Gorges National Park
In 1978, the area of Paklenica National Park was put under the protection of the United Nations program "Man and the Biosphere". With its two monumental canyons, the second largest European preserve of Austrian fir, ancient beech forests and steep cliffs, this natural phenomenon is touted as one of the most beautiful national parks of the northeast Mediterranean. Many species, particularly reptiles and birds, have been recorded here, including some rare and endangered species of birds.
Day 11: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Otocac Mills
Today we travel to Plitvice National Park. This day is one of our longest travel days, however we have several stops to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.
Day 12: Cres Island
In the morning, we take the ferry to the second largest of the Adriatic islands, Cres Island, and visit one of the oldest settlements - the picturesque seaside town of Beli.
Day 13: Istria Peninsula: Porec, Rovinj, Pula
Today we have a long and rewarding day, exploring the Istria peninsula, an archipelago of 13 islands, offering incredible flora, fauna and beaches. First we travel to Porec to see a 6th century B.C. UNESCO World Heritage Site basilica and it's Byzantine gold mosaics. After heading to Rovinj for lunch in this charming fishing town, followed by a guided tour to see St. Euphemia's Church, which is named after a martyr saint from the 6thcentury and has a commanding hill top location. We travel along the scenic roads to Pula, which is famous for its 1st century Roman Amphitheater overlooking the harbor. We will tour the ruins to see the limestone 30-meter high outer walls that could enclose 20,000 spectators. We wander through the Temple of Augustus; see the statue of James Joyce. We return to Lovran for a late dinner. Overnight in Lovran.
Day 14: Hum. Slovenia Border Cross, Salinas (saltpans), Hrastovlje Church to Trieste, Italy
This morning we visit Hum shortly, known locally as "the smallest town in the world". This fortified hilltop town has a medieval Bell Tower which overlooks the picturesque valley. We will have time to explore Hum's shops where we will find local brandies and paintings.
Day 15: Venice, Italy
This morning we leave for the two-hour drive around the top of the Adriatic Sea to the treasure that is Venice. Known as the "Queen of the Adriatic" the city is made up of 117 islands, 150 canals and has 409 bridges. We take a ferry to St. Mark's Square and have a morning sightseeing tour of this UNESCO site. Alight Italian lunch and then some free time to explore. There are so many choices - a gondola ride, sit in the piazza and feed the pigeons or perhaps enjoy a coffee at one of the famous outdoor cafes. Then we retrace our route back to Trieste for dinner and overnight. Overnight in Trieste.
Day 16: Trieste Sightseeing, Lipica Stud Farm
This morning we have a two-hour guided tour to explore the grandeur of Trieste. We will cover the most important sites including the Basilica of San Guisto with it's 13th century frescoes and mosaic of St Justus, the town's patron saint. There are the 1st and 2nd century remains of the Roman theatre and time to explore the largest seaside piazza in Europe- Piazza dell' Unita. Of course no visit to Italy would be complete without sampling some of her gastronomic treats.
Day 17: Skocjan Cave, Dormouse Museum, Sneznik Castle, Mt. Slivnica Panorama
In the morning we walk 3 kms through the incredible Skocjan Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will walk 90 meters above the giant underground RiverReka and finish our trip on the bottom of the deep dolina sinkhole, from where a cable car takes us back to the starting point. After our picnic lunch, we explore a small, unique museum, hidden deep in the forest, the Dormouse Museum, This musdeum celebrates the history and cultural impact of the four species inhabiting the Slovenian forests. Nearby is the remote and seldom visited, fairy-tale-like Sneznik Castle, built in the XIII century and recently renovated. Built since the XIII. Century, and owned by several aristocratic families during centuries. Survived the WWII and the following nationalization intact, it was functioning as a hunting lodge during the former Ex-Yugoslavian years, and became a museum in 1983.
Day 18: Visit Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle
This morning we drive to the caves of Postojna. Hidden deep within this world-famous cave lie a rare beauty created over millions of years; carved, shaped and created by water - year after year. A small electric train shuttles us into the cave and from inside the cave we can witness the incredible stalactites shaped like needles, icicles, and even columns and pillars. Another highlight of the cave is a small tank filled with pink Olms (fully aquatic, blind cave salamanders). These bizarre little animals are also named the "human fish" (Proteus Anguinus) and in habit only 2 or 3 caves of the Dalmatian coast. Postojna Cave has a constant temperature of between 8°C and 10°C with a humidity of 95%.
Day 19: Hike Around Lake Bohinj and Mt.Vogel Cable Car and Savica Falls
This morning, we enjoy a hike around the beautiful glacial lake of Bohinj. After lunch a cable car takes us to Mt. Vogel where we enjoy spectacular views over the snow capped Julian Alps and Lake Bohinj below. We can see Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia (2,864 meters/9,396ft), and the beautiful Lake Bohinj below us. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax or take a hike to Savica waterfalls, the highest in the country and one of the two sources of the Sava River. We also stop en route to see a small picturesque WWI cemetery. During the WWI the area was the frontline between the Austro-Hungarian army and the allies, and was immortalized in the famous novel of Hemingway, The Farewell to Arms. Overnight in Bohinj.
Day 20: Lake Bled, Ljubljana Sightseeing
This morning we drive to Lake Bled, a picturesque green lake surrounded by the Slovenian Alps. We visit Bled Castle, perched on a cliff high above the lake; it offers spectacular views of the town, lake and countryside. From here we see the small Church of Assumption on a tiny tear-shaped island - the only true inland island of Slovenia - called Blejski Otok. We enjoy a relaxed lunch in downtown Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. We will a walk through the city center and around castle hill - an impressive castle that dates back to the 9th century. Climb up to the High Tower, for incredible view of Old Ljubljana, the green park (Tivoli), and the city's famous Baroque style monuments. This afternoon, enjoy some free time before we complete our tour with a farewell dinner. Overnight in Ljubljana.
Day 21: Departure
Following breakfast, we bid farewell to our new friends and transfer to the airport for international departure flights.
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