Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas & New Year wishes

Time to fly to England today (land of the snow and chilly weather!). Will try and post during the Christmas holidays, if not, will be back in the new Year - with more exciting photos of the beautiful azure Croatian coastline!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Am I mad to change?

From this .... to this! Here is the snowy scene sent by mobile from my friend in Brighton today, just where I am heading to on Sunday. Yes our Dubrovnik temperatures have dropped somewhat this week with the cold north wind, but to be experiencing snow soon is a shuddering feeling. At least British Airways are not on strike now, so air travel plans should be fine.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No electricity!

Tuesday evening 7.30pm ... clack ... no electricity! There had been a big fire at the electricity station, and the whole of the Dubrovnik region was in darkness. Fortunately I had candles and torches, but it was getting mighty chilly! Early to bed. We don't have gas pipes in Dubrovnik so rely heavily on electricity. For my area the electricity came on late last night, so over 24 hours (spanning 2 evenings) of cold. Strange to see Dubrovnik in complete darkness. They are predicting more cuts too before the week is out.

Winning Ticket ...

Monday evening I was invited to the Foreign Circle Christmas party in Dubrovnik. Approx 100 people attended the party with drinks and food in abundance. Met lots of people through both business and friendship. A raffle was held with fabulous prizes ... and I won one! Two nights bed and breakfast sea view room at the 5 star Hotel Radisson Blu! OK so the hotel's only 20 minutes down the road, but will be a great weekend break next year. Photo Mark Thomas

Thursday, 10 December 2009

No to blue houses!

I received a shock today: driving through my favourite little village near to Dubrovnik where the detached family houses are attractive with well-tended gardens, I turned a corner and came across this! Yes, I like the colour blue, but please, not for a house!

Dubrovnik today

"Let me just pull over, I'm driving in snow ..." No, not me, the client I had called in Sweden today. I had just taken this photo from the viewpoint at 1030am, a picture postcard December day with the islands in the background, blue sky and sunshine. Temp about 13c/55f but the sun made it warmer. Anyone holidaying in Dubrovnik now will be very happy indeed!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Friends always turn up just at the right time with flowers! It was lovely of Vesna to give me a little bouquet on Friday as a belated birthday present (er ... was 3rd November!). They brightened my day up no end and now look great in the apartment this weekend. Thanks! xx

Red sky at night ...

In Britain the old rhyme "Red sky at night; shepherds delight. Red sky in the morning; shepherds warning" means what it says (and can sometimes refer to sailors as well as shepherds). However, in Croatia it is the other way around! I jumped up when I saw the sky a crimson red getting deeper and deeper ... The delights of winter sunsets. Umbrella tomorrow.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Beautifully restored 18th century villa

Love the turquoise shutters!
Grey in the bathroom is fabulous
Traditional wooden flooring
Modern mixed with traditional
Clear uncluttered bedroom, and double doors
Spacious attic room with en suite bathroom
Here's the grey bathroom again
Peaceful patio
Interesting artwork on the landing to create interest
Attractive courtyard surrounded by lavendar ...
I know several people who read Azure Croatia have an interest in interiors (all my other favourite blogs have the interior theme). Although my blog is to air my ideas/views/ surroundings I couldn't help but post this today. I have been working on some properties in the Istrian area - north of Croatia. Properties are quite different in Istria to the ones in Dubrovnik as it is usual in the north to always have fireplaces, central heating, and all insulation from the cold. They always get snow whereas Dubrovnik gets snow once every 45 years (once being Feb 2008). This property is a beautifully restored 18th century villa in Motovun, a fashionable town, famous for its annual film festival. Three bedrooms, and very stylish, the property caught my attention. source.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

From Alaska to Croatia

From Alaska to Croatia (and around the world inbetween). Many people ask how I met my man as he is Croatian and I am British. "I met him in Alaska". Back in 1996 on Cunard's Crown Dynasty we met whilst working on the ship and berthed in Juneau. The ship had 300 crew and about 28 were Croatian, and half of these originated from Dubrovnik. Alaska has breathtaking scenery, incredible glaciers (which you can walk on), clear unpolluted air, stunning natural landscapes, and magical sunsets, never mind watching up close the beauty of the whales, bears and abundant wildlife.

First holiday abroad to Yugoslavia/Croatia

My first holiday abroad (apart from school trips to France) was in 1979 with my parents and sister. We travelled to what was then Yugoslavia, with the popular tour operator "Yugotours". Our hotel for the fortnight was Hotel Belvedere in Medulin, near Pula, Istria. I have great memories of the holiday and I think I have still got "souvenirs" from 30 years ago (simple things like wine labels, menus, printed serviettes, tic-tac boxes etc). I remember being dragged round an ancient Roman ampitheatre, not a great day out for a youngster. Is it fate that years on, I am now living here in Croatia, albeit in the south of the country?

Hotel Dubrovnik, England

Back in the early 1980's my parents sold the family home (I come from a large family of 7 and numbers were dwindling as we began leaving the nest). A few years later on the house was bought by a Croatian family as their primary residence. My parents moved back to the Drive and bought the house next door. The Croatian family's business was a few miles down the road; a hotel called Dubrovnik Hotel. My sister even had her wedding reception at the hotel in '91. Today the privately owned Dubrovnik Hotel continues to flourish and promotes itself as Bradford's Premier Boutique Hotel. So, is it fate that I should be now living in Dubrovnik? All those years ago I never thought that I would be living in the country of origin of my neighbours.

Blue moon month

December is the month of "the blue moon". The popular definition means it is the 2nd full month to occur in one calendar month. One full moon was this morning, 2nd Dec, and the other will be New Year's Eve, 31st Dec at 7.11pm GMT. On average there will be 41 months with 2 full moons per century or once every 2 and a half years ..... once in a Blue Moon! The skies here in Dubrovnik tend to be quite good for watching out for stars and the moon, so will be on the lookout for the blue moon at the end of the year (champagne in hand!).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Welcome to December ...

Last Saturday I watched BBC World's interesting "Hot Cities" about climate change and the fact that hurricanes and flooding around the world are increasing (apparently NYC is threatened to be at risk of flooding!).
For the last 24 hours we have endured a vicious coastal storm - winds up to 110km (directed straight at my apt, I am sure!). I thought my windows would blow in, so spent a sleepless night wandering the apt considering if I should bed down in the living room. Every storm seems worse than the one the previous year. By 4pm today, a sliver of sunshine showed through, but by 4.15pm for sunset - it was gone. These photos show nothing, if there was sound - it would be deafening. Ah memories of living on the coast in summertime ...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Before & after, stone house restoration II

This shows a marvellous renovation of a house I sold 3 years ago, located on The Stradun (main promenade) of the Old Town, Dubrovnik, indicating what can be done with a centuries old property. The whole house of just 77m2 was totally gutted including ceilings/floors which were re-aligned as previously the 1st floor was barely 6ft high and the second floor was very high. Now it's an impressive 3 bedroom house for rental, right in the heart of the historical medieaval city.
Before - second floor bedroom

After - converted to the open-plan living room/kitchen

After - another view of the high ceilings in the open-plan living room

Before - first floor bedroom, with low ceilings

After - first floor bedroom with en suite bathroom, with higher ceilings

Before - attic

After - bedroom with twin beds, great for the kids

Before - 3rd floor kitchen

After - 3rd floor bedroom with en suite bathroom

Before - first floor bedroom, with low ceilings

After - first floor bedroom with en suite bathroom

Before - second floor bedroom, with high ceilings

After - second floor, now living room

Before - bathroom

After - bathroom

Before - a stairway

After - stairway remodelled!

After - stairway remodelled, showing other side of living area

The Stradun, the same now as it was centuries ago ..... unchanged! The marble slabs were laid in 1468!

French porcelain votive lights

During winter I always have lots of candles around the living room in the evening. The favourites are the above Bernardaud porcelain votive lights. One of the leaving gifts from my time at sea (well chosen by the Captain's wife!) was the "bouquet of roses" light. We found the "sailboats" in Little Switzerland, St Maarten to add to the collection. The exquisite detail is illuminated when a tea-light is placed inside. Dozens of scenes exist: New York, Paris, Orchids, Japanese Gardens, Humming birds, Chicago .... even golf. See here.