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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.
Day 2: Dubrovnik Sightseeing
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 coast fell 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: Panoramic Drive Through Montenegro: Kotor, Kotor Fjord, Budva
Today is a long, exciting day! We leave our hotel early and cross the border into Montenegro to the beautiful coastal town of Kotor, 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. After a guided tour of Kotor, we drive to the mountains above the fjord, to Mt. Lovcen National Park's highest passes, to look at one of the most magnificent landscapes of all Europe. Kotor Bay is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The high craggy peaks of the bay make this landscape unforgettable, especially on rainy days, when a myriad of colors reflect off of the sea.
Day 4: Hike on Lokrum Island, Trsteno Plane Trees, Ston
This morning we will travel by local ferry to Lokrum Island Nature Reserve. 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, including a small salt lake. Our walk takes us past a deserted Benedictine monastery founded in 1023. 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, and take a 30 minute ferry ride back 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 Bascarsija 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 its post war revitalization. We also visit the spot where Franz Ferdinand was killed, a historically important event in starting WW1. We return to Mostar for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Bosnia: Mostar Sightseeing, Blagaj Monastery
After breakfast we set out to enjoy the magnificent city of Mostar, the unofficial capital of Herzegovina, in the 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 heroism and poetry and composed of narrow, winding streets. Here we will visit the Old Bridge, a Turkish house, and a mosque, as we learn about the cities Muslim heritage.
Day 7: Croatia: Imotski Sinkholes, Split Sightseeing, Free Time in Trogir
After breakfast, we drive back to Croatia. Enroute, we stop at two rarely visited, enormous sinkholes of Imotski, with deep lakes on their bottoms. Both of these lakes were created by water erosion of the underground 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, enjoy a 1-hour boat trip on the Krka River to Visovac Island. Here we have a short-guided tour of the Franciscan Monastery. After our return boat trip, we walk throughout the national park to see hundreds of beautiful small waterfalls, deep in the river gorge. This 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 drive through the countryside brings us to a great 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
After breakfast, we have a short drive to Sibenik. Here, 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.
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 recognized 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.
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: Mt. Ucka Panorama, Moscenice Village and Oil Mills
This morning (weather permitting) we drive up to the peak of the coastal range of the Istria peninsula, called Mt. Ucka (1400 m). Here we enjoy magnificent views over the whole of Istria, the Bay of Trieste, the Julian Alps, and the Adriatic islands including Dugi Otok. You can see all the major towns of the area of which we visit tomorrow. On a clear day it is also possible to see Venice.
Day 13: Istria Peninsula: Pula, Rovinj, Porec
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 Pula, which is famous for its 1st century Roman amphitheater overlooking the harbor. We 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 to see the statue of James Joyce. We continue onward to Rovinj for lunch, a charming fishing town, followed by a guided tour to see St. Euphemia's Church, named after a martyr saint from the 6th century, which has a commanding hilltop location. Later in the afternoon, we visit Porec to see a 6th century A.D UNESCO World Heritage Site basilica and its Byzantine gold mosaics. We return to Lovran for a late dinner.
Day 14: Hum, Slovenia Border Crossing, Hrastovlje Church, Socerb Viewpoint to Trieste, Italy
This morning we visit Hum, 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. Enjoy a light Italian lunch followed by some free time to explore. There are so many choices - a gondola ride, sit in the piazza and feed the pigeons or enjoy a coffee at one of the famous outdoor cafes. We retrace our route back to Trieste for dinner and overnight.
Day 16: Trieste Sightseeing, Lipica Stud Farm
This morning we have a guided tour of Trieste. We will cover the most important sites, including the Basilica of San Guisto with its 13th century frescoes and mosaic of St. Justus, the town's patron saint. There are the 1st and 2nd century remains of the Roman theater 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, Knizna Cave
In the morning we walk 2 kms through the incredible Skocjan Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will walk 90 meters above the giant underground River Reka and finish our trip on the bottom of the deep sinkhole, from here a funicular takes us back to the starting point.
Day 18: Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle
We drive to the caves of Postojna. Hidden deep within this world-famous cave lies 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 inhabit only 2 or 3 caves of the Dalmatian Coast. Postojna Cave has a constant temperature of between 8-10 degrees Celsius with a humidity of 95%.
Day 19: Hike Around Lake Bohinj, 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 snowcapped Julian Alps and Lake Bohinj below. We can see Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia (9,396 ft/2,864 m), and the beautiful Lake Bohinj below us. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax or take a hike to Savica Falls, the highest in the country and one of the two sources of the Sava River. We also stop enroute to see a small picturesque WWI cemetery. During WWI, the area was the front line between the Austro-Hungarian army and the allies. It was immortalized in the famous novel of Hemingway, The Farewell to Arms.
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 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 views of Old Ljubljana, and the city's famous Baroque style monuments. This afternoon, enjoy some free time before we complete our tour with a farewell dinner.
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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