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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 12.18.17
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL & Kathy Cavanaugh
All photos courtesy the authors

VISITING WHAT WAS ONCE YUGOSLAVIA

[AUTHORS' NOTE] In 2017, from October 19 through November 7, Kathy and I traveled in what used to be Yugoslavia.

We traveled with my brother and sister-in-law (Dave and Mary) on a Vantage tour, which included a small boat cruise down the Dalmatian Coast. Yugoslavia, which was a federation of eight provinces, was formed as a kingdom after WWI with the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After WWII it became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Marshal Tito. In 1980 Josip Broz Tito died, which weakened the federal government then facing economic and political challenges.

First, the Kosovo Albanians raised demands for greater independence. Then, ethnic tensions between Albanians and Serbs resulted in the growth of Serbian opposition to the autonomy of provinces and the federal system of government. In 1987, Slobodan Milosevic came to power in Serbia, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia dissolved in 1990, and in 1991 and 1992, four republics declared independence leaving only Serbia and Montenegro federated.

The Yugoslav War started in Croatia, triggered by a string of inter-ethnic incidents, and continued into 2001. The war killed 140,000 people and caused economic damage that was visible to us on our trip.

Kathy wrote day by day summaries, the first of these follow, with some edits and additions by Frank.

Bled, Slovenia
Thursday, October 19, 2017

We are off to a good start! Our Lufthansa flight on Tuesday from Dulles was on time, comfortable and not too long. We left around 6:15 p.m. and arrived in Frankfurt about 7 a.m. Flying time about 5 and one half hours and time changes. Frank upgraded our seats so we had plenty of leg room.

Frankfurt airport is a huge. Once landed, we taxied for another 15 minutes. Then we had to get to the next gate for the flight to Ljubljana. In the airport we walked down long walkways with lots of shops and restaurants, down elevators, up escalators, more walkways (some with people-movers; some without), down stairs, up another escalator to the correct terminal and gate. An interesting note; in the Frankfurt Airport they have glass-rooms - within airport smoking booths - with names like Camel-smokers, etc.

Our Slovenia airline Adoria flight was not so great. Frank had zero room for his legs; and I was definitely feeling cramped. Fortunately, it was not a long flight. We flew over part of the Alps as we entered Slovenia, where some of the mountains are already snow-covered. Slovenia's highest peak, Triglav (9,396 ft.), was clearly visible.

The Ljubljana airport was relatively new -- easy to get our luggage and find our driver. We met three other of our Vantage Cruise members -- Bonnie and Paul from Schenectady and Cheryl from New Jersey. We were taken to Bled, where we were joined at the hotel by Joan and Bob from Detroit. The hotel was right on Lake Bled; and since it was 'off season' our rooms were upgraded to the fourth level, with balconies overlooking the lake.

At the suggestion of our tour director, Sasha, we had lunch at a restaurant across from the hotel. The food was great and was Austrian/Hungarian. The portions were dinner-size, not lunch. Also at Sasha's suggestion Dave, Mary, and I walked around part of Lake Bled. There was much to see. The lake is beautiful with a castle above and a church in the middle.

There are two ways to get to the church island (the only island in Slovenia); by rowing yourself, which Dave did. Or one can hire a pletna. The pletna can hold about 15-20 passengers and is rowed by one man standing in the stern with two long oars. The boats were surprising fast despite the weight. As can be seen in the pictures, there are many churches; most of the people, 58 percent, are Roman Catholic.

boat

church

We only walked part of the 3.75 miles around the lake. Since there was little sleeping time on the plane, we ran out of energy; and we still had hours to go before bed time in order to get back on a reasonable sleep schedule. We met Sasha and the other tour members at 6:45 for a brief introduction, drinks, and then on to dinner at the hotel. Finally, getting to bed felt oh so good!

TO BE CONTINUED...

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