Monday, June 30, 2008

Camping on Uglian, Croatia

Waterfalls & Lakes

A few of the sites at Plitvicka Jezera, Croatia

Antique Wood Floors From Italy

We are looking at marketing wood flooring made near here from antique wood recycled. They are people we know from the kids school and have a very good business selling all over Europe. They don’t have any sales in the US and are willing to work with us if we can start something. Times are tough now, but since this is a high end specialty product it might still work. This is really beautiful stuff, some of the wood even comes from the old poles in the Venice canals.

Let us know if you have some interest.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

13 Days in Croatia

Some friends were staying on one of the Islands for two weeks in a hotel comlete with breakfast and dinner. They asked us to join them so we decided to take the camper down. Turned out we were right next to their hotel in a tiny camp ground. The island is Uglian and so is the town. We went to Croatia for a very short trip a few weeks ago so we had some idea. But this island was much more simple shall we say. The great thing about these islands is that there are so many places to swim and very few people. The water is clear, clean and warm enough. It seems Croatia is making a huge effort to stimulate it's tourist business. Construction is going on everywhere, improvements to streets, boardwalks, and town squares.

We spent 10 days on the island with our friends something longer than we planned, because the kids were all playing together and things just went well. Then we moved on to see the cascading lakes at Plitvecka Jezera. They are a series of lakes each one a bit lower than the other so they are connected by waterfalls. Very beautiful, and quite a tourist attraction. A little like going to Yosemite. It's all very organized, we did the six hour tour, you take a bus down to the highest lake, then walk for an hour and a half or so, eventually arriving at one lake where you are taken on a boat across it. At that point there is a nice park with food service, we stuffed ourselves with roasted chicken.

What really made this a vacation was all the little problems, you know what's a vacation without them. The first couple of days on the island it rained a lot, the only hot water was solar so no hot showers, we were able to use the camper shower, but there was no water connection so I couldn't refill our tank. Eventually I bought some extra tubing and disconnected the camp shower hose to hook up my hose. It worked fine. Did I mention that there was only one other family in the camp. In fact when they arrived to stay in a trailer fixed in the camp they were just behind us so I decide to move, and that's when I backed into the tree, smashing a tail light. Next came the mountain bike ride in which I lost our camera going over some really rough rocky roads. Hours of back tracking failed to find it. We did have another camera but of course I didn't bring the charger for it as I hadn't really planned on using it. The final episode was the dead battery when we went to leave, our friend and the neighbor helped us jump start it. That was fine, I kept the motor going on the ferry ride, but when we stopped on the island of Pag for a little tour, dead battery again. I manged to jump it using the camper battery, but that requires taking out the driver seat to access it. Not much fun.

More later

Friday, June 6, 2008

Staying Fit Looking Young

People ask John how do you do it, stay so young looking at your age. Well actually no one ever asks me that, but I want to talk about anyway. Really my secret is to drink a lot of wine, and eat plenty of salty greasy snaks. The wine and the snacks are my weakness. Otherwise I do all right with the food. But I think the important thing to remember in keeping one's physcial fitness as one ages is to make the effort part of everything one does. For example: the little things we do everyday make a difference, practice your balance by always putting on your socks and shoes standing on one foot rather than sitting down, stretch your legs by reaching down to the floor without bending the knees, unless picking up something heavy. Take the stairs always. Walk whenever you can rather than taking the car. The idea is to make things we have to do anyway part of an overall fitness program, I'm sure you can come up with your own ideas. One really needs to be stuborn and not accept the aging process as a given, of course it is, but we don't have to just sit back and get fat and weak. Are you 30 something and think it's not important to excercise. Don't kid yourself, the body starts going downhill after 20 something. Take care of yourself and at 65 you might ski better than you ever have, or swim 2k. It's really amazing how much one can do if one takes moderate care of oneself.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Emperor of Mexico

I think many Americans have heard of Archduke Maximilian. He's the guy who was asked to and finally accepted the title of Emperor of Mexico. Little did he know what he was getting himself into. His end came at the firing squad of Benito Jauraez. We made a trip down to a beach in Croatia this weekend and along the way stopped off to see Miramare Castle, manily because it was used in a movie we saw recently. It's in Trieste. It was built by Maximilian as his home which he lived in only 3 years before heading off to Mexico. I had no idea really of the history so I've since done a little studying, that's the funny thing about traveling about, it does make you have to wake up a bit to what's around you.

We took the camper of course, "camped" in a parking lot on the water front in Trieste the first night which gave us a chance to make a bike tour of the center of the city. It's really a pretty city, and on a Saturday night with warm weather, the outdoor bars and restaurants where full. One can see the influence of the Austrians in the architecture.

Croatia, was the second night but only after taking a tour of the biggest cavern in the World also in Trieste. Very impressive, especially the 140 meters of steps to go down and then back up. Then it was the beach, mostly rocks big and small, but very clean and clear water. Not really a great place for kids, but being so early in the season at a camp ground we had a beautiful spot overlooking the water. The nearby giant waterslide free as part of the campgrounds made up for the lack of sand on the beach for the kids.

All this followed Monday by it taking 4 hours to travel 90 kilometers. Just traffic and border crossings. Interesting being in a traffic jamb in a camper, spent time cleaning and organizing, then fixed dinner, ate, got Giovanni and Julia ready for bed, teeth brushed etc. Then they went to bed and slept through the rest of the trip, but not before watching some of a movie on the laptop.