mascaras meet the mediterranean, part nine: a croatian safari.

The next stop on our honeymoon was to a place that we would never have considered if it wasn't part of the cruise itinerary.  We had never heard anything about Dubrovnik, Croatia until booking our trip, and after booking, we kept hearing how beautiful it was.  "Beautiful" ended up being quite the understatement.  

We arrived in Dubrovnik and added some sunrise pictures to our collection before setting off on our Croatian safari.

Our tour group for the day was only about 10 people, which was a nice change from the large tours we'd taken up to this point.  On the way to our first destination, we stopped to admire the view of Old Town from above.

We took a bus to a hotel where our tour guide was waiting for us.  The guide didn't even check our licenses before giving us the keys to our little Toyota truck. (And to say my husband was a little bit excited about the brand of trucks we were taking would be the second largest understatement of our visit to Croatia).

The safari began with a bit of a roadblock-- cows crossing the street!

When all the cows had crossed, we made our way up the mountains and arrived at the overlook of Sivi Soko.

We hung out with the goats for a bit while learning about the history of Dubrovnik.

From the overlook we could see the town of Cavtat, which is apparently a popular celebrity destination.  Our guide informed us that Beyonce and Jay-Z had just been there a few weeks before us.

We hopped back in our trucks and drove through a few (large!) puddles in the valley to get to our next stop.

We stopped along the coast to admire the beautiful view.  It was so amazing how on the right we could have a gorgeous view of the cliffs and the sea...

and on the left, breathtaking mountain views!

Next, we drove back through the valley and snapped some pictures of the clouds that were coming over the mountains.

We came across a herd of sheep on our way.

We stopped at a stream and took in yet another gorgeous view...

and proceeded to drive THROUGH the stream while praying that it wouldn't be too deep.

We made it across and drove through the countryside vineyards.

Then we stopped for lunch at an olive oil mill that was built in the 1300s.  The mill has been passed down through the family since it was created.  Currently, six brothers and their families tend to the mill, and they've opened it up as a restaurant in the off season.

We learned how the olives are pressed to make the oil before eating lunch.

Then we enjoyed the most memorable (and most delicious) meal of our entire honeymoon.  Everything that was served was grown and made right there at the mill.  The homemade brandy and dried figs we received as a "welcome drink", the delicious red and white wines, and the chicken soup.

The veal and chicken and the deliciously seasoned potatoes...

The cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes for the salad, and the olive oil used to flavor it (it is an olive oil mill, after all!).

We were then served the most colorful fruit spread I had ever seen for dessert, complete with figs, huge grapes, watermelon, and pomegranates.   MMM pomegranates.  They have been my obsession ever since.

After a delicious meal and purchasing a giant bottle of olive oil to bring home, it was time to head back to the boat.  We said goodbye to the mountains and coastal views...

and promised ourselves that we'd be back to visit the most beautiful place on earth again in the future!


mascaras meet the mediterranean, part eight: adventures in athens.

Let's get back into the honeymoon recaps, shall we?  Our next stop after Santorini was Athens.  Unfortunately, this was probably the worst day of our whole trip!  We had booked another excursion to see the Acropolis so we set out for the city in our big bus with blue tinted windows.  As you can see, the blue tint did a little number on the pictures we took on the way there!  This picture still looks pretty cool though.

It took quite awhile to get through the city, as there was a ton of traffic.  Athens is kind of dirty and there is a ton of graffiti everywhere.  It was literally on almost every building we saw.  

We stopped at the Olympic stadium to take some pictures on the way.

After the long battle with traffic, we finally arrived at the Acropolis.  It was at least 90 degrees outside with no shade in sight and the line to climb the steps was insane.  Unfortunately, these were the least of our problems.  Our tour guide was terrible!  For starters, it was really hard to understand her, which mad it kind of difficult to enjoy the tour when no one in our group could follow what she was saying.  We hadn't encountered this problem with any of our guides on our trip so far, so I know it wasn't just us.  Second, she was on her cell phone the entire time!  How could she possibly give a tour while on the phone?  Yeah, she couldn't.  We had to sit there and wait until she finished.  Lastly, with such a huge crowd, it was impossible to stay with the group when she wouldn't hold up the number designating our group!  I think we lost about half of our group by the time we got to the top of the steps.  Another person in our group actually took the sign from her and held it up herself after awhile.  To make things worse, we had wasted so much time waiting for her to get off of her phone that we thought we wouldn't get to see everything!  Since we knew when we had to be back at the bus (and knew how to find the bus) we decided to cut our losses and tour the Acropolis without a guide.  Sadly, we didn't get the history lesson we paid for, which probably didn't help improve our impression of Athens as a whole.  But at least we got to see it...

An ancient theater that is overlooked by the Acropolis.

The view from the top.

Pedestrian traffic jam.  That is NOT our tour guide holding up the sign.

The Propylaea.

The Erecthion.

The Parthenon.

View of the Temple of Zeus.  I love this picture!

About a half hour before we were supposed to be back at the bus, we started back down the steps.  Good thing we left early, because we got stuck in another pedestrian traffic jam and were stopped for about 20 minutes!  We finally made it down and back to the bus, and passed by a few monuments on our way back to the boat.

Hadrian's Arch

The Parliament Building at Constitution Square.  We got to see the guards out front do their little dance!

When our less-than-stellar tour had ended (thank goodness) we decided that Athens was not our favorite honeymoon stop.  Thankfully, the cruise line refunded half of our money for this excursion because so many people (including us) complained about our tour guide.

Though our time in Athens was less than ideal, we were glad we got to see it.  We said goodbye to Greece and boarded the ship to head to our next stop: Croatia!